Games three and four of the 2017/18 AJHL Finals were held at the Grant Fuhr Arena – the home of the Spruce Grove Saints.
Spruce Grove was put on the powerplay early in game three after Nick Blankenburg was called for cross checking 55-seconds into the game. The Saints would capitalize on the odd-man advantage with a goal from Logan Gaine. The Irma native sniped the puck over Riley Morris’ left shoulder from the right faceoff dot for his third of the post season.
Gaine then got his name on the board, again, just eight minutes later. The home team broke out of their zone and drove down the left boards. A drop pass from Seth Fyten fell to Gaine who made no mistake and sniped another one over Morris’ glove to extend his team's lead.
It kept getting worse for the Oilers who seemed to have no answer to the Saints highly dangerous attack. After Kyle Gordon mishandled the puck behind his own net, Chris Van Os-Shaw bounced on the loose puck and brought it in front to put a third goal past Morris.
This was not the start the Okotoks Oilers would have wanted especially being down 2-0 in the series coming into the game.
However, the Oilers would play significantly better in the second and third periods. They found a way to slow down the Saints and reduced them to only eight shots through the last 40 minutes after allowed nine in the first period. The Okotoks offense picked up as well.
Around the six-minute mark of the second, Okotoks would finally get themselves on the scoreboard courtesy of Regan Doig. Austin Wong won the faceoff to the right off Nolan Kent in the Saints goal. The puck shot back and was then fired from the point and tipped in by Doig to pull his team within two goals.
However, despite numerous chances throughout the remainder of the game, Okotoks were unable to beat Kent again after he made a number of fantastic saves. The Saints would go on to win 3-1 and make it a 3-0 series.
Moving onto game four, the Oilers were able to build off the momentum they gained from the backend of game three. A turnover from Jarrod Gourley led to Okotoks first goal just 53-seconds into the opening frame. Kyle Gordon pounced on the turnover and sent the puck across the ice to an open Quinn Olson who then scored his first of the playoffs.
Gourley did redeem himself, though, in the second when he blasted a slap shot past Morris’ to tie the game up.
Two goals 31 seconds apart in the third from Dylan Holloway and Ben Sanderson in the third helped the Oilers pull away from the home team. Then, a fourth goal from Tanner Laderoute cemented a victory for them and forced a game five.
The two teams will now head back down South for game five at the Pason Centennial Arena on Friday.
– By Liam Horrobin @LiamHorrobin