Contributed By: Sean Emmett – Sun Country 99.7FM/High River Online, Oilers Colour Commentator
Photo Courtesy of: Allen Gimblett/Dynamic Photography
It was a busy last week of the regular season for the Okotoks Oilers, and a roller coaster week at that.
The week started on a high note for the Oilers, most particularly for goaltender Nic Renyard.
The AJHL announced its league award winners, with the stand-out netminder taking home both the AJHL MVP and Top Goalie Awards.
Renyard became the first Oilers' player since Brad Eidsness to take home both awards, after a season that saw him break both of Eidsness' records for wins (29) and shut-outs (four) in a season.
At the end of the season, Renyard finished with a 30-8-3 record and five shut-outs to go along with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.
With third place in the AJHL South already locked up, the Oilers headed into Calgary Tuesday night for a tilt against a Calgary Mustangs team still fighting for their playoff lives.
Trailing 4-2 in the third period, the Mustangs stormed back to tie the game and win 5-4 in overtime, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
The Oilers went 3/4 on the power play in that game, two of those goals coming from AJHL Top Rookie finalist Trey deGraaf.
The red-hot Tanner Ockey extended his point streak to a league-best 11 games with a goal and assist, giving the Captain 10 goals and nine assists in that span.
Riley Morris stopped 21 of 26 shots in the loss.
The green and gold then hit the road Friday night to take on the Bandits in Brooks, looking for their first win of the season against their South Division rivals, with an 0-3-2 record this season heading into the game.
Mitch Collett, returning from injury, scored the opening goal for the Oilers, but it was all Brooks after that, as the Bandits swept the season series with a 5-1 win, scoring three power-play and two-shorthanded goals en route to the victory.
In what would be his last regular season start, Nic Renyard saw 45 shots come his way, stopping 40.
The Oilers then finished the week the same way it started, taking on a Calgary team scrambling for a playoff spot, except this time it would be the Canucks.
Trailing the Calgary Mustangs, who faced the Brooks Bandits Saturday night, by a single point, the Canucks needed two points to give themselves a shot at the seventh and final playoff spot, pending the result of the Mustangs' game.
With family and friends in town, including his mother, Tammy, Nic Renyard was presented with the AJHL MVP and Top Goalie Trophies by the AJHL Commissioner, Ryan Bartoshyk and Oilers' President Wayne Lauinger.
It was also 'Dunphy Watch 2015', as veteran blue-liner Cole Dunphy suited up for his 200th, and last regular season game, still trying to score his first AJHL goal.
Despite time on the power-play as a forward, that goal eluded Dunphy one last time, but he says it's an honour to get his 200th game in.
“Pretty happy with 200,” he says. “It's a milestone, not many people get it.”
After the Canucks opened the scoring 14 minutes into the first, the Oilers responded with three straight goals from Trey deGraaf, Matt McNair and Connor Chambers.
The Canucks were able to bring it within one late in the second, with Matteo Milroy tying things up with seven minutes to go in the third, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
At that point, the Mustangs were losing 5-2 to the Bandits late in the third, so the Canucks' post season lives laid in their own hands.
But, just under three minutes into the extra frame, Jordie Lawson put a dagger in the hearts of the Canucks, and sent the Mustangs into the playoffs with just one shot, sealing the 4-3 win for the Oilers.
Riley Morris, standing in for Renyard, made 32 saves for his seventh win of the season.
The Canucks weren't the only team scoreboard watching on Saturday night, as the Oilers had a close eye on the Olds Grizzlys' game against the Drayton Valley Thunder.
While the Oilers had third place in the south sealed up, they had to wait until the very last game of the season to find out who their opponent would be.
After beating the Grizzlys Friday night, the Canmore Eagles moved one point ahead of Olds for fifth place, but the Grizzlys had one last chance to reclaim the spot.
The Grizzlys edged Drayton Valley 4-3 to move back into fifth place, meaning the Oilers and Eagles will battle it out in the first round.
The two teams have met once before in the playoffs in 2009/2010, with the Oilers winning the first-round series in six games.
Games one and two of the series go Thursday and Friday night at the Pason Centennial Arena, with game three in Canmore Sunday night.
If necessary, game four will be in Canmore the following Monday night, and back in Okotoks for a decisive game five Wednesday night.