OKOTOKS, AB (October 29, 2023) — Thomas Matte (Calgary, AB) and Sam Hall (Oldwick, NJ) scored their first AJHL goals, as the Okotoks Oilers (10-6-1) rebounded from an early 1-0 deficit, scoring eight straight goals en route to an 8-1 victory over the visiting Drayton Valley Thunder on Sunday afternoon in front of a healthy Halloween-themed crowd of 785 at Okotoks Centennial Arena.
With the win, the Oilers leapfrog Spruce Grove into 7th place in the AJHL, but sit just one point back of Drumheller, Calgary, and Bonnyville who are tied for fourth, but have played more games than Okotoks.
For the second straight game, in similar fashion to their 6-3 win over Lloydminster on Friday, the Oilers trailed less than a half-minute into the game when a rebound goal for Kurt Gurkan set up by former Oiler Ryan Neumann gave the visitors the early advantage.
But the Oilers’ power play, which went 4-for-9 on the day, keyed the comeback. Sam Huck (Calgary, AB) tipped home a sharp-angle shot from Jackson Rowland (Calgary, AB) at 5:37 to tie the game, before Matte’s first in the AJHL, which would stand up as the game-winner, came at 7:40 on a low wrist shot from the slot.
At 17:32, the home side got its second power play goal of the period when Hall fired a long shot from the blue line that found its way past goalie Cameron Doucette. Hall would finish the game as the first star with two goals and two assists, a career high.
In the second, Connor Gourley (Calgary, AB) swept in a power play goal at 4:46 on a setup from Owen MacNeil (Calgary, AB), who finished the game with three assists. Hall followed up with his second of the game with a hard one-timer from the right circle at 5:41.
A scary moment ensued later in the period when Gourley upended on a blind side hit to the head by Drayton Valley’s Evan Smutney. After being attended to on the ice, Gourley exited the game with help from teammates and did not return to the game. Smutney was assessed a match penalty for the hit to the head.
On the ensuing power play, Jagger Tapper (Calgary, AB) sniped a shot from the slot to make it 6-1 Okotoks. The Oilers added two more in the span of 20 seconds in the third; the first a Brett Wilson (Calgary, AB) net front backhander off a setup from Hall, and the second another from Tapper on a net front tap-in set up by Kade Duell (Taber, AB) and newcomer Allen Sherpa (Calgary, AB).
The Oilers outshot the Thunder 35-19 and went a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, with goalie Alex Scheiwiller stopping 18 of 19.
Okotoks will hit the road Tuesday to take on the Olds Grizzlys, aiming for a 4-game win streak. Pregame coverage on The Eagle 100.9 FM starts at 6:45 PM.