The Okotoks Oilers U17AAA team took home the provincial championship last Sunday with a hard fought 1-0 win over the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers.
AAA Oilers goalie Connor White of Strathmore played a huge role in the win. Being outshot 49-17, White blocked shot after shot while the Oilers hung on to earn the win.
Okotoks scored the game's only goal at around the 10-minute mark of the first period and from there it was on White and the team's defense to hold strong. While White is the last line of defense and the one that gets all the credit for saves, he says it was a full team effort.
"We spent a lot of time in our end... I have to give my team credit, they blocked a lot of shots and played really well in front of me. We knew we had enough to win, everyone just did whatever it took to keep the puck out of our net," he said.
While hanging on to a one-goal lead in the championship game feels like it would be a high-pressure situation, White explained that wasn't actually the case for him. With an entire season of hard work and great coaching, White said he didn't feel nervous.
"Honestly, playing in the game is much easier than watching it, just being able to be in the situation and have control of what's going on kind of calms you down in a way."
This wasn't the only time White put the team on his back, as he's been stellar during the team's entire post-season run. His efforts earned him the honour of playoff MVP, which he said was a special moment for him.
"It was amazing, it was a long season and I worked really hard and just to see a little bit of recognition was really nice."
While the Oilers ended the season on top, it wasn't always smooth sailing. White said the team went 1-6 in January and the team wasn't feeling great, but they turned it around and spurred a comeback to turn their fortunes around. With renewed energy and momentum, they carried that all the way to their provincial win.
"I think for a while our whole team was just gripping our sticks just a little bit too tight and then once it looked like we were going to get out of it and once we started to string a few wins together, it showed everyone our season still had a ton of potential left in it."
White won't be on the U17AAA team next year as he will age out, but he hopes to continue playing hockey on a U18 team. His ultimate goal is to try and play Junior A, so joining a U18AAA team would move him one step closer toward that goal.