AJHL Finals Preview: Okotoks vs Saints

After tremendous seasons, and division championships being earned in both the regular season and playoffs, the Okotoks Oilers and the Spruce Grove Saints will meet in the AJHL Final to battle for the 2018 Inter Pipeline Cup.  The meeting between the Oilers and Saints marks the first time the teams with the top two records in the league will play each other for the championship since the Saints met the Brooks Bandits in 2015-2016. 

The series, which gets underway in Okotoks on Friday night, will be must see action for all hockey fans as it’s truly the AJHL’s best on best for the 2017-2018 season.  Here’s how the teams stack up against each other.

(South- 1) Okotoks Oilers 106 Points  VS (North- 1) Spruce Grove Saints 97 Points

Okotoks vs Spruce Grove this season:

  • Record: 2-0-0
  • Home: 1-0-0
  • Away*: 1-0-0 (Game played at Northlands Coliseum)
  • 10 goals for, 5 goals against
  • Power Play: 1/6, 16.7%
  • Penalty Kill: 6/8, 75%
  • Post-secondary commitments: 7
  • Rookies: 13
  • Path to AJHL Final: BYE, swept Camrose Kodiaks 4-0, defeat Brooks Bandits 4-2.

Top Scorers vs Spruce Grove (G-A-Points): Nick Blankenburg (0-4-4); Ben Sanderson (3-0-0); Kyle Gordon (2-0-2); Regan Doig (0-4-4); Tanner Laderoute (1-2-3); Marco Pasemko (1-2-3); Riley Morris (2 wins, 45 saves/50 shots)

Why the Okotoks Oilers can be AJHL Champions:  The Okotoks Oilers may be coming off a tough six game series against rival Brooks, but the two losses in the series are the Oilers’ lone blemishes in an otherwise perfect 2018.  The Oilers rattled off 29 straight wins (regular season and playoffs) and finished first overall in the AJHL this year, meaning home ice advantage in this final series.  No team loved playing with home ice advantage more than the Oilers this year, with an overall record of 31-4 this year including playoffs.  The Oilers also won both games against the Spruce Grove Saints this season, including the Farewell to Northlands contest back in December, outscoring Spruce Grove by a 2:1 margin in both games combined.  The Oilers also picked up the wins without standouts Dylan Holloway and Jacob Bernard-Docker, who were away with Team Canada West at the time of both meetings against the Saints.  The Oilers may be making their first trip to the AJHL Finals in franchise history, but their season and playoff run has them firmly entrenched as the team to beat. 

Spruce Grove vs Okotoks this season:

  • Record: 0-2-0
  • Home*: 0-1-0 (Game played at Northlands Coliseum)
  • Away: 0-1-0
  • 5 goals for, 10 goals against
  • Power Play: 2/8, 50%
  • Penalty Kill: 5/6, 83.3%
  • Post-secondary commitments: 8
  • Rookies: 10
  • Path to AJHL Final: BYE; sweep Grande Prairie Storm 4-0, sweep Whitecourt Wolverines 4-0.

Top Scorers vs Okotoks: Chris Van Os-Shaw (0-2-2); Brad Forrest (0-2-2); Seth Fyten (1-0-1); Parker Sarestky (1-0-1); Austin Parmiter (1-0-1); Nick Leyer (1-0-1)

Why the Spruce Grove Saints can be AJHL Champions: The Spruce Grove Saints may be coming off consecutive sweeps after a lengthy first round bye, but if their on ice performance this post season has validated anything it’s that rest is far from a hindrance.  Coming off another week plus of breaks between games, the Saints are relatively healthy and hungry to earn their first win of the year against Okotoks.  While the Oilers have home ice advantage, the Saints have been true road warriors all year as after going 22-5-3 away from Grant Fuhr Arena ice in the regular season they’ve gone 4-0 in the playoffs- with three wins also being shutouts.  While the Oilers were missing Holloway and Bernard-Docker in the regular season series against Spruce Grove, the Saints were without defenders TJ Lloyd and Jarrod Gourley who were also at the World Junior A Challenge and goaltender Nolan Kent, who was still out with injury.  On paper, Spruce Grove is the underdog.  On the ice, they are the Saints.