OKOTOKS, AB (September 16, 2023) — Kade Duell (Taber, AB) scored his first AJHL goal and Rylan Brown (Sherwood Park, AB) netted the shootout winner as the Okotoks Oilers gutted out a 5–4 win over the Canmore Eagles in their 2023 home opener on Saturday night.
Duell scored on a partial breakaway midway through the first period off a tape-to-tape stretch pass from Brown to give the Oilers a 2–0 lead over the Eagles. Hunter Sawka (Cochrane, AB) had opened the scoring for the home side just 3:30 into regulation time before Duell doubled the lead on the power play.
The Oilers controlled the pace of the game and heavily outshot the Eagles for much of Saturday evening, ultimately taking 36 shots to Canmore’s 19. But the Eagles erased the Oilers’ lead with back-to-back goals by defenceman Brody Tallman before Brody Mortensen put the visitors up 3–2 at the 13:51 mark of the second period, only 47 seconds after Tallman’s equalizer.
The Oilers continued to press for a game-tying goal as the second intermission neared, and Connor Gourley (Calgary, AB) finally provided one in unorthodox fashion with 1:43 to play in the middle frame. After locating the puck near Eagles goaltender John MacPherson, Gourley banked the puck into the net off a skate in front.
Tyler Loughman restored Canmore’s one-goal advantage against the flow of play at the 7:55 mark of the third period. The Oilers looked far and wide for another way to draw even as time ticked down in regulation, with Sam Huck (Calgary, AB) coming extremely close to beating MacPherson on numerous occasions.
Finally, Huck and Ethan O’Halloran (Calgary, AB) ended up setting up Brett Huxley (Calgary, AB) for an enormous goal with 61 seconds left in the third period. Having forced overtime, the Oilers managed to kill off a high-sticking penalty against Huck in the extra frame before prevailing in a six-round shootout.
After Sawka and Cole Wirun traded goals in the early goings of the skills competition, Oilers starting goaltender Shane Shelest (Pointe-Claire, QC) stood tall as four consecutive Eagles shooters failed to score. After Duell was stopped in the fifth round, Brown roofed one past MacPherson in the sixth to send the fans at Okotoks Centennial Arena home happy.
The Oilers had previously defeated the Eagles in Canmore by a 5–1 score on Friday evening. Now boasting a 2–0 record, the Oilers will return to action on Tuesday to take on the Olds Grizzlys before coming home to host the Blackfalds Bulldogs on Friday, September 22.
Recap: Mike Gould
Photo: Chad Goddard