Contributed By: Sean Emmett – Sun Country 99.7FM/High River Online
Photo Courtesy of: Allen Gimblett/Dynamic Photography
Historically, February has been a great month for the Okotoks Oilers, and just three games in, it appears history could repeat itself in 2015.
After ending January on a two game win streak, the Oilers made it five in a row with a perfect 3-0 week, taking care of business against Olds, Drumheller and Whitecourt.
In fact, the team's recent success has landed them an honourable mention in the CJHL's weekly Top 20 Rankings, a recognition they've earned on numerous occasions this season.
No one had a bigger week than Oiler's rookie defender Carson Beers, whose 7 points in three games earned him his very first Player of the Week honours, the first Oiler to do so this season.
It took extra time, but the Okotoks Oilers started the week off with a bang, handing the rival Olds Grizzlys a 4-3 overtime loss at home on Tuesday night.
Rhett Gardner notched the winner just 37 seconds in to the extra frame on an Oilers power-play, extending his point streak to three games.
Rookie defender Carson Beers was the hero of the night, however, as he put up a goal and three assists for a career-high four point game.
Meanwhile, goalie Nic Renyard stood tall for the Oilers, making 20 saves for his 26th win of the season.
With just six points separating the third place Oilers and fourth place Dragons in the AJHL South Division, the green and gold marched into Drumheller Friday night with a tough task at hand.
Not only did they secure a regulation win against the Dragons, they did so in convincing fashion, handily beating their South Division rivals 5-1, earning their fourth straight win.
Despite being outplayed for most of the first period, the Oilers found their game in the second period, and gave themselves an eight point cushion over Drumheller.
On his 20th birthday, Oilers forward Mitch Collett gave himself quite the gift, scoring two goals, giving him points in four straight games (4G,2A).
Forwards Rhett Gardner (2A) and Tanner Ockey (2A) also extended their point streaks to four games, while Connor Chambers (2A), Eric Krienke (1G) and Carson Beers (1G,1A) all made it three straight games with at least one point.
Nic Renyard was his usual self in net for the Oilers, allowing just one goal on 32 shots for his fourth straight win.
Clearly having shaken off the 7-0 loss in Bonnyville just two weeks prior, the Oilers headed back home Saturday night for a rare visit from the Whitecourt Wolverines, who they hadn't beat on home ice in two tries since the Wolverines moved to Whitecourt from St. Albert in 2012.
That stat no longer looms over their head, as they took down the Wolverines 5-2 in a shooting gallery, peppering Whitecourt goalie Tanner McCorriston with 49 shots.
The Oilers had a tough time solving McCorriston in the first period. Despite firing 22 shots his way, the Wolverines net-minder stood tall for his team, helping them nurse a 1-0 lead heading into the dressing room after the first frame.
Rhett Gardner was the first to finally solve McCorriston, notching his second shorthanded goal of the season, and the fourth for the Oilers.
Just over four minutes later, Gardner notched his second goal of the night, and would add an assist about six minutes after that, giving him three points on the night, giving him four goals and four assists on a five game point streak.
Captain Tanner Ocket kept his five game streak alive as well, with his assist giving him seven points in that span.
Carson Beers put a bow on an outstanding week, grabbing an assist to give him seven points on the week, and eight overall on a four game point streak.
Beers says everything went right for him.
“I'm getting lucky out there sometimes, that's for sure,” he says.
It was a bit of an unusual game, as it appeared to be all but over following a Trey deGraaf shorthanded empty-netter to make it 4-1 with under three minutes to go.
But, Dylan Thudium replied almost immediately on the power-play for Whitecourt to make it a two-goal deficit once again, before Matt McNair sealed the game with another empty net goal in the final minute.
Beers says it was definitely a different game than the previous night in Drumheller.
“I think the shots were more against us in Drum,” he says. “But, it was nice to be on the other end, to have a lot of shots.”
It wasn't all smiles for the Oilers following the win, as Mitch Collett, the team's second best point-getter, left the game after a post-whistle hit from Wolverines defender James Vermeulen, and did not return.
The Oilers have a few days off before another big weekend, as they'll head into Camrose Friday night to take on the South Division leading Kodiaks.
It's a tall order for the Oilers, as they'll take on an angry group of Kodiaks, who have yet to beat the Oilers in four tries so far this season.
The squad then heads home for one last match-up against the Drumheller Dragons Saturday night.
It's a big four points for the Oilers, and not just to maintain their lead over the Dragons.
While second place in the South looked out of reach just a few weeks ago, the Brooks Bandits have stumbled a bit down the stretch, and now sit just five points ahead of the Oilers with eight games to go.
You can catch Friday night's game in Camrose on the Eagle 100.9 with Gino DePaoli and Sean Emmett, pre-game starts at 6:45.