*Written/supplied by the Okotoks Oilers  (for video highlights click on link)

Kade Turner (Calgary, AB) broke a 1–1 deadlock early in the third period with his first Alberta Junior Hockey League playoff goal and Jack McNaughton (Calgary, AB) stopped all but one of the 28 shots he faced as the Okotoks Oilers defeated the Blackfalds Bulldogs 4–1 on Friday to open their Viterra AJHL South quarterfinal playoff series.

Friday’s contest marked the return of playoff AJHL hockey to Okotoks for the first time since 2019, when the Oilers made it all the way to the Viterra AJHL South final before losing to the Brooks Bandits in six games.

Ethan Jamernik (Calgary, AB), Bowden Singleton (Calgary, AB), and Brett Huxley (Calgary, AB) also scored for Okotoks, which took a 1–0 series lead over Blackfalds. The Oilers defeated the Bulldogs in four of their six meetings during the 2021–22 regular season, including a 3–0 shutout victory in the season finale on Feb. 26.

Singleton’s breakaway goal gave the Oilers a 3–1 cushion with just 4:31 to play in regulation time. Entering Friday’s action, Singleton — the No. 192-ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list — had last scored against the Canmore Eagles on Jan. 25.

Jason Siedem (Madison, NJ) scored the lone Bulldogs goal in the game. The Oilers ultimately outshot Blackfalds 38–28.

Jamernik was the only non-rookie to score for the Oilers on Friday. The 20-year-old forward was named the first star of the game for his efforts; McNaughton was recognized as the third star. Jamernik previously scored a playoff goal as a member of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in 2020.

Active in the Oilers’ lineup for the first time since suffering an injury against the Calgary Canucks on Feb. 21, defenceman Riley Bodnarchuk (Okotoks, AB) racked up a pair of helpers (including the primary assist on Turner’s game-winning goal). The Oilers went without Sam Huck (Calgary, AB), Brendan Boyle (Lake Country, BC), Austin Reschny (Macklin, SK), Carter Massier (Peace River, AB), and team captain Tucker McRae (Calgary, AB) in Friday’s contest.

The Oilers will look to double their series lead over the Bulldogs when they return to action at Pason Centennial Arena on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. MT.

— Mike Gould

Photo: Chad Goddard Photography