Late lead changes and a precision strike in overtime.
The Spruce Grove Saints followed a similar script to a near identical finish as league MVP Chris Van Os-Shaw scored four minutes into overtime as the visitors edged the Okotoks Oilers 3-2 in Game 2 of the AJHL final Saturday at the Pason for their second win in the extra session in as many nights.
“It helps having a guy with breakaway speed like that,” said Saints head coach Bram Stephen. “An unbelievable play on our back-end to see that lane going up the ice and being creative enough to fit the puck where he could get it. Speed and then the poise to finish with speed like that is nice to have on your roster.”
Even with all the talent on the ice there was nothing to show on the scoreboard through 40 minutes with the Oilers held to just 10 shots through two periods compared to 21 by the Saints.
“Sometimes we’re trying to be a bit too fancy,” said Oilers defenceman Jacob Bernard-Docker. “It’s not hard when you just have the mindset to just shoot the puck on net, we’ve got to generate more on the net especially since they have a good goalie.”
Van Os-Shaw scored his first of two on the night to break the scoreless deadlock just 1:17 into the third period and the Saints looked to be on their way to a 2-0 series stranglehold.
“In the second period we managed the game, managed the puck, managed our positioning on the ice really well and it started showing on the shot-clock,” Stephen said. “It did carry over to the first five minutes of the third. What an unbelievable push Okotoks had after we went up 1-0 and we had a similar push after they went up 2-1.
“It’s interesting how leads keep being exchanged. It’s two teams who have a championship mentality and know how to push when they’re under adversity.”
Okotoks turned the game on a dime.
Nick Blankenburg fired the Oilers on the board nine seconds into a powerplay and under two minutes later the hosts found themselves in front when Bernard-Docker’s shot through a screen found the back of the net.
Saints captain Josh Harris forced overtime on a terrific feed on the backdoor from Parker Saretsky with just 47 seconds left in regulation, setting the stage for Van Os-Shaw’s overtime heroics.
“We’ve got to be more consistent throughout the game,” Bernard-Docker said. “We’ve had periods where we’re working them low and having good cycle pressure and periods where we have brain farts in the defensive zone and just aren’t tight enough.”
The Saints host Game 3 and 4 at the Grant Fuhr Arena on April 16-17. If the Oilers can extend the series beyond four games they host Game 5 back at the Pason on April 20.
“We don’t give up and we won’t give up,” Bernard-Docker said. “We’re down 2-0, we’re still confident in our group. We still believe we can get two in Spruce and come back here.”
For more information go to okotoksoilers.ca
AJHL Final scheduleGame 3: Oilers at Saints, April 16, 7 p.m.Game 4: Oilers at Saints, April 17, 7 p.m.Game 5: Saints at Oilers, April 20, 7 p.m.Game 6: Oilers at Saints, April 22, 7 p.m.Game 7: Saints at Oilers, April 24, 7 p.m.