Overtime magic gets Oilers back in the win column
Hockey: Wong scores winner as Okotoks outlasts Brooks 3-2
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 06:00 am
After seeing its winning fortunes end the Okotoks Oilers wasted no time getting back on track.
The Oilers won their third game in three meetings over the Brooks Bandits 3-2 in overtime on an Austin Wong marker Sunday at Pason Centennial Arena less than 48 hours after seeing their 10-game winning streak to start the season finally halted.
“(Coach Tyler Deis) told us good teams don’t lose two in a row,” said Oilers forward Regan Doig. “We lost that 10-game winning streak, doesn’t matter go start a new one and that’s exactly what we did.”
First-period goals on consecutive shifts from Kylor Wall on the man-advantage and at even-strength through Kaleb Ergang gave Okotoks a 2-0 advantage in the early stages.
The Bandits battled back, capitalizing on a couple Oilers miscues to trim the lead through Nic Hamre and then level the score at 2-2 in the second period through captain Dennis Cesana.
The Oilers absolutely dominated the third period, outshooting the visitors 8-4 and for a moment looked to have taken the lead back when Doig chipped the puck in on a diving effort only to be waved off by the officials seconds later.
“We’ve played really well in the thirds this year,” Deis said. “I think these guys are coming into the thirds believing they’ve given themselves a chance and as a group collectively they know when we get these games to the third they have that confidence to be able to take it over.”
The shorthanded unit kept the high-octane Bandits off the board on seven powerplay opportunities, creating huge momentum for the Oilers in the latter half of the contest.
“We were getting the puck low and not letting them get the middle of the ice,” Doig added. “They’re a talented team and their back-end can get things going for them, so get the puck low to the forwards, that was our game plan.”
Wong finished the game off in overtime, taking advantage of a fatigued group of Bandit skaters on the ice to create room and cut to the net for the winner with 13 seconds remaining.
“I knew there wasn’t much time left,” Wong said. “I noticed the line they had out there was already pretty tired and decided to take it to the net and it worked out.”
Okotoks now has six points from its three meetings with the Bandits who have found their game and entered the meeting on a four-game winning streak.
“It’s huge to get such a big win, especially one that doesn’t fall into our lap,” Wong said. “We had to work for it and it showed a lot of character.”
The Oilers saw their 10-game streak end in the battle of the top two teams in the AJHL as the visiting Fort McMurray Oil Barons hung on for a 4-2 triumph in front of a season high 1,372 fans Friday at the Tara Roe Memorial Game at Pason Centennial Arena.
“It’s huge competition. Playing one of the top teams in the South there is always that North-South rivalry,” said Blackie’s Liam Izyk, Oil Barons alternate captain. “We want to be the better division and winning over the top team sends a huge statement.”
Okotoks fired 28 pucks on goal in the final 40 minutes after the teams played to an even-opening frame.
Marc Pasemko got Okotoks on the board just 1:40 into the contest on a breakaway for the rookie forward’s second of the year.
The Oil Barons’ 15th ranked powerplay bucked the trend and evened the score on the man-advantage five minutes later on a JC Thivierge point shot. Jack Verstraete gave the Oil Barons their first lead in the middle frame as the visitors cycle game took over for a marathon shift.
“We were pretty lackadaisical off the start and surged towards the end,” said Oilers forward Tanner Laderoute. “You’re not going to win too many games like that. It was good to see us battle and stay together, but if we play like that from the start there is no way that game goes that tight like that.”
Against the run of play the Oil Barons made it a two-goal advantage.
Izyk was in the right spot at the right time to tip in a pass in the slot at the 9:48 mark in the third period to snuff the Oilers rally.
Not for long.
Wong barrelled into the crease and slid the puck past Oil Baron Eric Szudor on a diving effort with 8:10 left in regulation to cut the deficit to one.
That’s as close as the green-and-gold would get.
Szudor stood tall amidst wave after wave of Oilers attacks, making 35 saves to pick up his sixth win of the season.
Following a mid-week Oct. 17 date in Calgary versus the Mustangs, the Oilers get back on home ice on Oct. 20 in their first meeting of the season with the visiting Olds Grizzlys.
For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca
A season high 1,372 fans came out in support of the Roe family on Friday.
Prior to puck-drop a moment of silence was held for Roe, an Okotokian and victim of the Las Vegas massacre on Oct. 1.
Spectators wore purple in support of the family while funds raised from the purple ticket sales during the week will be donated to the Roe-Smith family.
By the Numbers
Okotoks’ 10-game season opening win streak tied for the fifth longest in AJHL history. The 2012-13 Bandits own the record with a staggering 20-game run to open their campaign.
The Oilers’ previous best start was five straight in the 2008-09 season.