OKOTOKS, AB (January 7, 2023) — The Okotoks Oilers made the most of their first home game of the new calendar year, toppling the Blackfalds Bulldogs by a 3–2 score at Okotoks Centennial Arena on Saturday evening.
Oilers forwards Zeth Kindrachuk (Calgary, AB) and Sam Huck (Calgary, AB) led the way with two points each in the nail-biting victory. Parker Sawka (Cochrane, AB) successfully outdueled Bulldogs starter Matthew Hennessey, making numerous ten-bell stops despite facing just 20 shots on the night.
Jackson Rowland (Calgary, AB) opened the scoring for the Oilers just over five minutes into the first period with a little backhand shot that deflected off a Bulldog stick and over Hennessey’s blocker hand. Kade Duell (Taber, AB) and Kade Turner (Calgary, AB) picked up the helpers on Rowland’s fourth goal of the season.
From there, Kindrachuk and Huck scored 2:28 apart midway through the second period to give the Oilers a comfortable lead. Kindrachuk picked up his sixth goal as an Oiler by sneaking a wrister past Hennessey from the corner of the offensive zone; Huck managed to cap off a neat sequence of puck movement involving Kindrachuk and Conyr Hellyer (Okotoks, AB) for his 12th of the year.
The Oilers limited the Bulldogs to just 10 total shots on goal over the first two periods of the game, but Blackfalds picked it up considerably in the third. The visitors controlled the shots 10–3 over the final 20 minutes and managed to beat Sawka twice, although they were unable to complete the comeback.
Connor Dick broke up Sawka’s shutout bid on Blackfalds’ first shot of the period, bearing in on a two-on-one rush and firing a perfect wrister inside the far post to make it 3–1 at the 2:26 mark. Later on, with only 5:08 left, Tyler Wallace managed to dance through the Oilers’ defence and slide the puck past a down-and-out Sawka to make it a one-goal game.
But, just 24 hours after dropping a 4–0 decision to the same Bulldogs team, the Oilers managed to hold onto their narrow lead through to the final buzzer. They moved back ahead of Blackfalds in the AJHL South standings by way of games in hand, although both teams have 49 points.
The Oilers will return to action on January 11 when they visit the Canmore Eagles. Two nights later, they’ll play host to the Olds Grizzlys at Okotoks Centennial Arena.
Recap: Mike Gould
Photo: Chad Goddard