It was a far from a perfect game for the Airdrie Xtreme, but the high-octane team used a five-goal cushion to finally earn a win over the Okotoks Oilers, 5-3, on the road Nov. 19.
In what was the Xtreme’s third time taking on its Ram South Division rival this season, and after a pair of ties in the previous two games, the team was finally able to come out on top.
“It was the closest 60 minutes we played against them this season,” said head coach Dave Millard.
The Sunday afternoon game was the Xtreme’s first regular season game in two weeks, but the team had taken part in a Calgary tournament the weekend of Nov. 11 to 12.
Even though it was an extended break, the Xtreme didn’t appear to have much rust on its legs as it dominated the Oilers in the first period, scoring a trio of goals from Sam Vincent (2) and Colton Koran and outshooting its opponents 27-5.
“The boys played a good 200-foot game today,” Millard said. “We always get up for the Okotoks games, and previously we haven’t played well enough to win. Today was just a different Airdrie team and a way better effort.”
The Xtreme continued its strong play into the second frame, scoring a pair of goals from Ethan Tinevez and captain Keagan Slaney to take a convincing 5-0 lead, but then bad habits crept into the game.
Airdrie went on a string of three penalties through the middle stanza and, although team didn’t give up a goal while on the penalty kill, it gave the Oilers enough momentum to start a comeback. The Okotoks team scored a pair of goals less than a minute apart when the Xtreme was at full strength on the ice.
“I thought during the second period we were just OK, but in the last six or seven minutes we started getting back to where we were in the first,” Millard said. “I thought our level of play came down and we took a few penalties and started playing like individuals.”
With a 5-2 lead heading into the final period, the Xtreme turned its play around and started to contain the Oilers’ counter attack, giving up just a single goal and holding onto its lead for its 10th win of the season.
Millard said he was happy with his team’s performance and was happy to finally get a win over Okotoks, but added his team needs to avoid taking dumb penalties and playing selfishly if it hopes to be a top team.
“You can’t take (unnecessary penalties) against anybody because they’ll make you pay for it and it takes away from our attack,” Millard said. “When we’re killing, we can’t go on as much of the offence as we want to.”
Although his team is currently sitting second in the Ram South Division and is points back of three other teams in the league, the Xtreme is still in the midst of a hunt for first due to having played fewer games this season.
The Xtreme season continues with a home game Nov. 25 against the 8-7-2 Calgary Northstars. Game time is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. at Ron Ebbesen Arena.