A well-oiled machine in the early going
Wednesday, Oct 04, 2017 09:43 am
One month does not a hockey season make.
But, excuse me for getting a little ahead of myself in being pretty darn impressed with what the Alberta Junior Hockey Leagueís top team at the moment has accomplished.
The Okotoks Oilers are the only undefeated squad in the province and did so while shattering their franchise best start of five-straight wins to start a campaign. Theyíre ranked third in the country at the Junior A level.
Theyíve done most of it without their best player. Netminder Riley Morris played in the opener and has sat out six straight. All rookie goalie Ben Howard has done in his stead is win all six of those starts. Both goaltenders have the fortune of playing behind a terrific group of defenceman, considered to be one if not the best bluelines in the AJHL.
Sophomore Jacob Bernard-Docker was just named to the NHL Central Scouting Player Watch List for the 2018 Draft, Carson Beers is zeroing on a number of Okotoks team records, Reece Soukoroff has evolved into a terrific two way defender, Kylor Wall is averaging more than a point per game on the back-end and the likes of Ryan Roberts, Hoon Kim and Nick Blankenburg have been very impressive.
The forward group was expected to be the biggest question mark on the team entering the season given the roster turnaround at the position.
Goal scoring, in fact, has been far from an issue. The youngest members of the team, 2001 born Quinn Olson and Dylan Holloway, are among the teamís top point producers while second year forwards Kyle Gordon (the AJHLís Offensive Player of the Week), Austin Wong and Regan Doig have made big strides thus far as sophomores.
A lot of the credit has to go to those responsible for finding talent and bringing it to Big Rock Country. The unheralded scouts, whom I profiled last winter in the Okotokian, have their fingerprints all over the construction of this roster.
Through four weeks everyone is seeing the fruits of that labour.