*Written/Supplied by the Okotoks Oilers (click for link to video highlights)
Jack McNaughton (Calgary, AB) showed no signs of rust in his second start in as many nights, making 26 saves to lift the Okotoks Oilers to a 2–1 victory over the Blackfalds Bulldogs in Game 2 of their Viterra AJHL South quarterfinal playoff series.
The Oilers took a 2–0 series lead over the Bulldogs with the win and will return to action for Games 3 and 4 in Blackfalds on Mar. 8 and 9. If necessary, the series will continue with Game 5 at Pason Centennial Arena on Mar. 11.
Conyr Hellyer (Okotoks, AB) and Rieger Lorenz (Calgary, AB) scored for the victorious Oilers, with Lorenz’s goal early in the second period ultimately standing as the game-winner.
Lorenz — the No. 24-ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting’s 2021 midterm list — sniped short-side on Bulldogs goaltender Lucas Massie for his first career Alberta Junior Hockey League playoff goal, which came on the power play at the 3:46 mark of the middle frame.
Nicholas Magis (Leduc, AB) scored Blackfalds’ lone goal in the loss. The visitors looked to have a sure tying goal later in the second when Ryan Johnson’s breakaway wrister glanced off McNaughton’s glove and in behind the net. With the Oiler goalie stuck at the far post recovering, Johnson recollected the puck and wrapped it around the near post. But the Okotoks netminder dove back across the crease and barely kept the puck out with his glove, keeping his team ahead by one.
The Oilers narrowly outshot the Bulldogs by a 29–27 margin in Saturday’s contest. Okotoks defenceman Nick Wolfenberg (Calgary, AB) picked up helpers on both goals scored by the home team.
Hellyer opened the scoring for the Oilers at the 8:14 mark of the first period, swatting home the rebound of a long-range Wolfenberg shot for his first AJHL playoff marker. Magis returned the favour for the visitors just 24 seconds later.
The Oilers remain in pursuit of their first playoff series victory since 2019, when they swept the Calgary Canucks and beat the Camrose Kodiaks in five before bowing out to the Brooks Bandits in the Viterra AJHL South final four games to two. They’ll return to action at the Eagle Builders Centre in Blackfalds for Game 3 at 7:00 p.m. MT on Mar. 8.
— Mike Gould
Photo: Chad Goddard Photography