Oilers back on track with saintly stand
Hockey: Okotoks trips up Spruce Grove, Drayton Valley in stellar homestand
Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017 06:00 am
When opportunity knocks, open the door.
Okotoks Oiler forward Marc Pasemko is getting more ice time with Dylan Holloway playing in the World Junior A Challenge and he took full advantage, by playing what he called his best game as an Oiler in a 4-1 victory over the Spruce Grove Saints Saturday at the Pason Centennial Arena.
Pasemko scored the Oilers’ opening goal and had an assist in the last one, an open-netter by Carter Huber, in the win over the Saints, who boast the third-best record in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
“This is a great opportunity for me to show the skills I have,” the 18-year-old Pasemko. “Some guys are getting more playing time -- especially me.”
The Oilers improved to 27-4-1, best in the league.
Pasemko opened the scoring 15 minutes into the first period on a confessed lucky goal – but luck as a result of hard work going to the net.
“Tanner (Laderoute) passed it to me and it bounced off the goalie’s stick, hit my stick and the d-man coming back on the rush, it hit him and it went in – but I will take any lucky bounce I can get,” Pasemko said of his third goal of the season.
Ironically, the gritty winger was contemplating playing for the Saints prior to the season.
“It was a decision, but Deis (Oilers coach Tyler Deis) was the ultimate guy, he believed in me,” said Pasemko, an Edmonton native. “I had something to prove tonight and it felt unreal to get that win tonight.”
The Oilers would increase their lead to 2-0 when Ben Sanderson took a feed from Nick Blankenburg for a shorthanded goal four minutes into the second stanza.
Okotoks made it a three-goal cushion when Blackie’s Blake Wells jumped all over Saints goalie’s Hayden Missler’s rebound and then rifled a shot into the net.
The Saints got on the board early in the third period on a powerplay goal by Austin Parmiter. Huber then put the game away with his empty netter.
The Oilers’ Scrooged like defence prevented the Saints from marching in on goalie Riley Morris.
They held the Saints Chris Van Os-Shaw, the league’s leading scorer with 28 goals and 18 assists, to just one good-scoring chance, which Morris knocked over the net with his glove. The green-and-white’s 6-foot-1 defenceman Carson Beers got the job of trying to shut the Saints’ sniper down.
“He’s a bigger guy I was fortunate to get the job to try and slow him down,” said Beers, who was named a game star. “He’s got a lot of skill. I just tried to keep a close gap and he’s got a good shot and I just tried to disable that as well.
“All I am trying to do is lower his chances and we have a good goalie and that helps too.”
Morris was rock-solid in net, stopping 27 shots.
“I think we have the best D corps in the league,” Morris said. “They help out every night, they keep shots from the outside and block a lot of shots.
“They are truly the ones to look at this game.”
Saints coach Bram Stephen said his team got outworked by a strong team. He wasn’t about to blame a banged-up roster for the loss.
“This was a good test, they are a really good hockey team,” Stephen said of the Oilers. “They work hard and they are fast.
“It doesn’t matter who is in the line-up for us, we need to play to our maximum best and we did that at times and other times we didn’t. A bit of a learning lesson tonight to be ready to go in terms of work ethic.”
Okotoks saved its best for the middle in the weekend opener, scoring five times in the second period to ride the Drayton Valley Thunder to an 8-3 conquest Friday on home ice after a lacklustre opening frame.
“That first wasn’t our best effort at all. It felt like it was a scrambly period,” Huber said. “We came into that intermission and said lets wipe the slate clean and restart and we bounced back really well.”
Blueliner Nick Blankenburg opened the floodgates, pinching in for a backdoor one-timer in tight on the powerplay early in the middle frame.
Sanderson doubled the lead on a terrific individual effort, using his 6-foot reach to lift a backhander into the top corner on a partial breakaway.
“I felt their guy gaining on me, he had quick feet and I felt his pressure from behind,” Sanderson said. “I just tried to get a quick shot on net and it worked out, just a little backhand sauce.”
The route was then and truly on.
Huber notched his first of two on the man-advantage on a tap-in near the blue paint, Kaleb Ergang poked in a rebound on a Tanner Laderoute wrap around and Austin Wong beat the buzzer with his 13th goal of the campaign to make it a 5-0 advantage after 40.
“We got back to playing simple hockey, making simple plays and not trying to do too much,” said Sanderson, the AJHL’s Player of the Week. “We know they’re lower down in the standings so that kind of got in our head a little bit. They came out hard, we knew we had to as well.”
Huber, Laderoute and Wells added third period tallies. Laderoute finished the contest with a team-high four assists and five points while Ergang had a four-point evening.
Okotoks finished a ridiculous 4-for-8 on the powerplay on Friday.
“Puck movement was really good, we seemed to be moving it around really fast,” Huber said. “We were finding the open seams and getting shots on net, that’s what made it successful.”
Coming off a tough three-game trip featuring a pair of losses the Oilers quickly got back on track to the lofty standards they’ve established from the get-go.
The green-and-gold sit 10 points clear of the second place Brooks Bandits for tops in the South with a game in hand.
“We didn’t get the results we wanted up north, but we thought there was some good effort and some positives and just tried to build off that,” Huber said. “Practices have stayed professional throughout, we didn’t change much, stuck to our game plan and that’s what we’ve done.”
The Oilers get a redux of sorts this week with road dates versus the Thunder and Saints.
Okotoks takes on Spruce Grove at Northlands Coliseum, the former home of the Edmonton Oilers, for one of the final competitive games at the facility on Dec. 15 followed by a date in Drayton Valley on Dec. 16. The Oilers wrap up their pre-holiday schedule on Dec. 19 at home versus the Camrose Kodiaks.
For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca
Okotoks Oilers forward Dylan Holloway and defenceman Jacob Bernard-Docker made the grade for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in Truro, Nova Scotia.
The Okotoks duo and Canada West, grouped in Pool B alongside United States and Czech Republic, shoot for gold from Dec. 10-16 in the Maritimes.
Go to hockeycanada.ca for the latest results.