The U18 AA Okotoks Oilers are headed to provincials playing their first game on Thursday afternoon (March 28) at JDA Place - Athabasca Arena in Whitecourt Alberta.

They advanced to the Provincial championship when they beat Westen Central Tigers in two games during their three-game series. They won their final game in the South Central Alberta Hockey League (SCAHL) championships with a 3-2 victory in overtime.

Head coach of the Okotoks U18 AA Oilers, Rob Hale said he is very proud of his group for coming together and battling for a position in the Provincials and winning the league championship.

"All lines have been great throughout the playoffs, south final and the SCAHL final. I was happy it ended as quickly as it did, it was a concern that it could go on for a while. But, as they have done quite a bit in the past couple weeks, the line of Markus Vassell and Tye Matthews got the puck into their end quickly, pursued the puck really well, moved it well quickly bellow the goal line, then moved it out high to Markus out in the slot who made a great release. I was so happy to see it go into the net," Hale said.

"Just pure joy, and I couldn't be happier and more proud of all those players in that room. They have all contributed to it and they all contributed that night. We have had some players who battled a few injuries here in the last few weeks and they were a huge part of it that night as well."

The Oilers were able to put up stunning numbers in the season having let in only 94 goals in 41 games and scoring 221 goals. Hale explains that the league lead in goals against is a stat he and his group are gratified to have accomplished.

"Well, it certainly starts with the goalies, Josh McCallum and McCallum Strachan both have had great regular seasons, great playoffs. Josh won the opening game in the SCAHL clinching series. McCallum did a great job going into West Central and backstopping us to that win. They have certainly been a huge part of it," he said.

"That's probably the stat I'm most proud of, it's 41 games we played, and we let in less than 100 goals against. I keep telling our team that goals against is a team stat. While we rely on the goalies to make those saves, I think limiting shot opportunities and limiting shots against is key, that comes down to the five players in front of them. Those five players on the ice have done a great job of limiting scoring opportunities and shots against, and really playing in the other teams end which helps a lot."

Both McCallum and Josh have a good relationship with each other, which isn't always a regular thing for goalies. Both push each other to be better but have a relationship like Boston Bruins goalies of the NHL Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark.

Another thing that has helped the team reach Provincials is the effort and leadership from the team captains, making Hales job just that much easier.

"It's up to that group to ensure that communication goes both ways, that the team understands what the expectations are of them. That the messages from the coaching staff get interpreted and delivered the right way in the dressing room," Hale said.

"They also bring forward on concerns with the team issues that we may not be aware of and need to address. Everybody working together in that capacity does go a long way."