Oilers weather Storm to enter record books
Hockey: Okotoks 4-3 triumph extends winning streak to franchise best 15 games
Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 01:28 pm
Winning never gets old, especially when you enter the record books.
The Okotoks Oilers (43-6-2) improved their winning streak to a club record 15 games with a 4-3 triumph over the high octane attack of the Grande Prairie Storm in front of 1012 fans Friday night at the Pason Centennial Arena.
“It’s a lot of fun when you’re winning, you come into the room and have that feeling, everyone is feeling good in there,” said Oilers winger Regan Doig. “Everyone is smiling, there is no grumpy faces and just a lot of fun lately.
“Right now we’re on a franchise record wins streak so it is a motivator, but at the same time you’ve got to come in every game the same. You come in with the mindset that you’re not winning and that it’s a zero-zero game until it’s over.”
It was going to take heavy lifting throughout the roster to keep the streak alive.
Okotoks was missing five regulars from the lineup with captain Carter Huber away on personal business, Carson Beers serving a suspension and the likes of Dylan Holloway, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Ryan Roberts out due to injuries.
“GP we played them once before, went up there and beat them and we knew this wasn’t going to be the same kind of game with five guys out,” Doig said. “We just had to prepare, it was up on the forwards because we had two AP defence and I think we did a good job.”
The Storm, enjoying their best campaign in five seasons as the fourth-seed in the North, showed they would be no pushovers in the inter-divisional clash.
Logan Moon’s even strength marker was the only scoring in the opening stanza.
“I think we came out thinking they have a long bus trip, their legs are going to be slow and they definitely took it to us,” Doig said. “Our second periods are usually our best periods, that’s where we get our momentum and we just kept going from there.”
The green-and-gold managed to weather the Storm in a dominant middle frame.
Rookie Quinn Olson got the hosts on the board two minutes into the period, Kaleb Ergang notched his ninth of the season to give Okotoks the lead followed by Austin Wong’s 23rd of the campaign.
Grande Prairie’s Edouard Michaud swiftly cut the lead in half before the intermission.
In the third period Tanner Laderoute got on the end of a terrific cross-crease pass Kyle Gordon to knock in his 28th goal in what would hold up as the game-winner.
The visitors made it interesting with Jonothan Hader’s powerplay tally midway through the period, but that’s as close as they would get.
Riley Morris made 22 saves for his 24th win of 2017-18.
“They’ve got four lines that can really come at you hard with speed and skill,” said Storm head coach Matt Keillor. “They seem to have a little bit of everything on every line, they’ve got speed, they’ve got grit, some heaviness and guys that will play physical.
“And the D and the goaltending is very special. They’re excellent skaters, puck movers so if you give them time and space they can really hurt you.”
Affiliate blueliners Tanner Sawka out of Edge School and Tyler Winquist out of the Calgary Midget AAA Royals filled in admirably on the back-end while fellow AP Logan Shaw logged solid minutes up-front.
“This has been awesome, the guys are great, the coaches are treating us really well,” said defenceman Kylor Wall, who joined the Oilers in an off-season trade from the Calgary Mustangs. “It’s a really big step from last year for me to come to this team and win 15 straight.
“Our goaltending has been unreal. Riley has been standing on his head the last 15 games, if he just keeps it going for us we will keep playing the best in front of him.”
Lost in the Oilers torrent run is the fact the second-seed Brooks Bandits aren’t losing any ground.
The Bandits are on an 11-game run of their own and sit 11 points back of the Oilers with 10 games left to make up the ground. The magic number for Okotoks to lock down first in the South is nine points from its final nine contests.
“We just want to clinch that first place spot,” Wall added. “And we’re not concerned about anything else.”
The Oilers are in Drumheller for their final matchup of the season with the third-seed Dragons on Feb. 13 and stay on the road for a Feb. 16 tilt with the Olds Grizzlys.
Okotoks’ next home date is Feb. 17 versus the struggling Calgary Mustangs.
For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca