We’ve had a couple of highly entertaining, emotional, and competitive hockey games in Okotoks this past weekend. Both games went to overtime, which only seems fitting with the two best teams in the AJHL going at it.
Moving onto the ice, the opening period of the series was tight with only one goal being scored. Tanner Laderoute was the one credited to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead midway through the period.
Spruce Grove got themselves on the board twice before the media timeout in the second. The first one came from Chris Van Os-Shaw who put his penalty shot past Riley Morris in the Oilers net. Van Os-Shaw pointed to the heavens after his goal, dedicating it to his former Humboldt teammates. Not long after, Saints defenceman Brad Forrest’s shot beat Morris to make it 2-1 and give his team their first lead of the hockey game.
Okotoks would, however, add two more goals in quick fashion before the end of the period. Laderoute grabbed his team's second and his ninth of the post season at the 17-minute mark. Then, less than a minute later, Jacob Bernard-Docker found the back of the net giving Okotoks their lead back. 3-2.
The scoring calmed down a little in the final 20 with only Sean Comrie lighting the lamp with his first career AJHL playoff goal. That goal also meant that we were heading to overtime.
It didn’t take long in the extra frame until Mr. Spruce Grove Saint, Josh Harris, put away a Van Os-Shaw pass to give the Saints a 1-0 series lead heading into game two.
The following night saw the two teams go at it again, with the result being a very similar outcome. The game was incredibly close with no goals being scored in the first two periods. The deadlock was eventually broken though from who else but 50-goal scorer Chris Van Os-Shaw one minute into the third.
Nick Blankenberg would tie the game up from a point shot on the powerplay for Okotoks. Another quickly followed that goal, but this time from Bernard-Docker, which gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead with just over 10 minutes to play.
Then, in dramatic fashion Saints captain Josh Harris came up clutch once again, and with 47 seconds left he scored to send the game to overtime, again.
The overtime period lasted a little longer this night. However, despite the length neither team gave the other much of a chance to win with only three shots occuring in the period. With that being said, when you have a player that scored 50 goals in the regular season, you’ll probably be given the edge. And that's exactly what happen. Van Os-Shaw put home his second of the game to give the Saints a 2-0 series lead.
Both teams will now travel North to Grant Fuhr Arena for games three and four. Game three gets going on Monday, April 17th with the puck dropping at 7 PM, and game four goes the following night at the same time.
– Liam Horrobin @LiamHorrobin