OKOTOKS, AB (Jan. 13, 2022) — The Okotoks Oilers entered the third period of Friday’s game against the Olds Grizzlys at Okotoks Centennial Arena trailing by a 2–1 score despite outshooting their opposition 24–11. They needed somebody to step up in the worst way.
Enter No. 12 in green.
It took just 24 seconds for Sam Huck (Calgary, AB) to tie the game on a Pete the Plumber power play that carried over from the second period. Less than five minutes later, Huck struck again — this time, on a Royal LePage Solutions penalty kill — to give the Oilers their first lead of the game.
Finally, in the last minute of regulation time, Huck skated like the wind onto a loose puck in the neutral zone and deposited it into the vacant Grizzlys net to complete his first AJHL hat trick (in natural fashion, to boot) and the first three-goal performance at home by an Oilers player this season.
Huck added an assist on the Oilers’ first goal, scored in the opening frame by Zeth Kindrachuk (Calgary, AB), en route to being named the first star of Friday’s game. The 18-year-old forward ranks fourth on the Oilers with 30 points in 26 games, but his 1.15 points-per-game pace puts him behind only Conor Hellyer (Okotoks, AB) at 1.30.
Asked by Oilers play-by-play broadcaster Peter Loubardias about his second goal, on which he stripped the puck from an Olds defender before firing a bullet past goaltender Marcus Cumberworth, Huck confirmed he was dead-set from the start on hammering that puck on that play. A bold choice — and a brilliant one.
“Yeah, the puck was thrown up ahead, I skated up to it and I knew I was going to take a slapshot with it,” Huck said. “Our aggression on the penalty kill and how fast we are, we can get to those loose pucks fast. And when we get the puck down the ice fast, we can get a change, get fresh legs out, so it’s easy to get on those loose pucks afterwards.”
Oilers starting goaltender Alex Scheiwiller (Calgary, AB) held the fort at his end of the ice despite facing far fewer shots than his counterpart from Olds. Scheiwiller made 13 saves in his first outing since Dec. 20 to improve to 8–5–2 on the season; Cumberworth stopped 35 of 38 Oilers attempts in the Grizzlys setback.
Greye Rampton and Jayden Watson combined on both Olds goals in the game, with Rampton setting up Watson in the first period and Watson returning the favour to Rampton in the second. Playing in his first AJHL game after being acquired from the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals, Grizzlys forward Parker Konneke also figured in with an assist on Watson’s opening goal.
The Oilers (25–13–3) won’t have much time to decompress before they return to action against the reigning Centennial Cup champions. They’ll be on the road Saturday to take on the Brooks Bandits (38–3–2) at 7:00 p.m. MT.
Recap: Mike Gould