Freshmen forwards stepped to the plate on a night of firsts for the Okotoks Oilers.
Nolan Flint, Dean Spak and Brett Huxley registered their first career Alberta Junior Hockey League goals with rookie skaters combining for five goals and 11 points as the Oilers (5-1-0) knocked off the Calgary Canucks 8-0 March 19 on home ice to pick up their first win of the regular season at Pason Centennial Arena.
"Everyone was really excited for us," Flint said. "Everyone was giving us pats and saying good job and we got our puck and grabbed it. That was really exciting for everyone."
In the first period, Flint notched his first goal with the club, smashing the watterbottle on a wicked wrist shot on the odd-man rush with linemate Cale Sanders, defenceman Eric Parker doubled the advantage on a point shot for first goal of the season and Huxley potted his first junior tally on a rebound marker late in the frame.
Spak made it three first-career tallies on the night by jumping on a rebound for the only scoring in the middle frame.
Sanders, who finished with a team best four points on the night, scored his third as an Oiler early in the third period to kick-start a four-goal frame for the hosts.
From there, Okotoks' powerplay kicked it up to 11 with three on the man-advantage in an eight-minute span with the rookie trio of Bowden Singleton, Rieger Lorenz and Blake Jacques all finding the back of the net to complete the comprehensive triumph.
"It was just getting a good entry and getting the puck moving and getting bodies in front and shooting worked well," Flint said.
Okotoks' depth continued to shine with veteran forwards Gibb Coady, Zane Kindrachuk and Dylan James out of the lineup and the team continuing to get used to playing without Jack Works and Louis Jamernik, now plying their trade in the NCAA.
"It's been nice to get out and just try everything that they were doing just watching them," said Flint, who calls Beaverlodge home. "Trying to fill those places is tough, but you just need everyone to step up and it's been good."
A veteran presence at the other end of the ice blanked the Canucks on 30 shots.
Brady Parker, in his third and final year with the Oilers, picked up his third career shutout by halting Calgary's attack, highlighted by 16 first period saves while the visitors were held scoreless on six powerplay opportunities.
Even among the lofty goal totals it was actually a focus on play away from the puck that characterized the majority of the team's practices leading into the weekend, Flint noted.
Due to the unusual schedule in the pandemic shortened season, the victory was Okotoks' first on home ice in the regular season in just their second appearance at Pason Centennial Arena. The Green and Gold sit 5-1-0 on the campaign.
Okotoks' second game of the weekend versus the Brooks Bandits, a road tilt scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Centennial Regional Arena on March 20, was called off in the morning of the same day.
The AJHL press release stated the game has been cancelled due to precautionary measures within the AJHL Return to Play Plan.
Brooks was able to get its game in with Calgary on March 21. No other information is available at this time.
The Oilers' next scheduled games are a road tilt in Calgary on March 26 and a home contest March 28 with the Bandits visiting at 4:30 p.m.
For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca
Ice chips... The hits keep on coming for Dylan Holloway.
The former Okotoks Oilers all-star centre was recognized for a stellar sophomore season with the Wisconsin Badgers as one of the 10 finalists for the 2021 Hobey Baker Memorial Award honouring the best player in college hockey.
The Bragg Creek native finished the season tied for fourth in points with 34 (11 goals, 23 assists), is third in the country with 16 powerplay points and was selected the national player of the month for February. Holloway, the Edmonton Oilers 14th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, played two seasons in Okotoks from 2017-19 and was selected the CJHL Player of the Year in 2019. Holloway was a key cog in Canada's silver medal performance at the 2021 World Junior Championships.
The 19-year-old is a finalist alongside Badgers teammate Cole Caufield, Boston College forward Matt Boldy and goaltender Spencer Knight, Boston University defenceman David Farrance, Minnesota netminder Jack LaFontaine, Minnesota State goalie Dryden McKay, Quinnipiac goalie Keith Petruzzeli and forward Odeen Tufto and North Dakota centre Shane Pinto.
The three Hobey Baker finalists will be announced on April 1 with the winner revealed on April 9 on the NHL Network.