(Supplied by the Okotoks Oilers)
OKOTOKS, AB (December 9, 2022) — Despite missing three of their top players due to World Junior A Challenge commitments, the Okotoks Oilers still found a way to emerge victorious by a 4–3 score over the Calgary Canucks at Okotoks Centennial Arena on Friday night.
Ty Yoder (Tofield, AB) clinched the W for the Oilers in overtime with an incredible individual effort in the offensive zone. After being denied by Canucks goaltender Max Prazma on a slick breakaway attempt, Yoder regained the puck and brought it back into the slot before firing it top-shelf for his 11th goal (and his first game-winner) of the season.
The Oilers trailed for much of Friday’s contest after surrendering a goal to Canucks forward Caden Steinke exactly nine minutes into the first period. Although Zeth Kindrachuk (Calgary, AB) restored the tie for the Oilers off a bang-bang play with Ethan Rowland (Calgary, AB) midway through the second, Sam Callahan put the visitors back on top off an Oiler turnover just 1:51 later.
Chaos ensued at Centennial late in the third period, with the Oilers finally breaking through at even strength after failing to score on four power plays earlier in the game. With just six minutes left in regulation, Okotoks captain Dean Spak (Calgary, AB) stole the puck below the goal line in the attacking zone and found Jagger Tapper (Calgary, AB) in front of the net with a spinning pass.
Tapper, who entered Friday’s game without a point in his last 11 contests, made no mistake. Just under two minutes later, Tapper set up Brett Huxley (Calgary, AB) to put the Oilers up 3–2 — their first lead of the hockey game.
“I couldn’t really do it without my linemates,” Tapper told Oilers play-by-play commentator Keegan Bartram after the game. “Spak found me, I don’t even know how he passed that, it hit me.
“Our game plan was to go to the net as hard as we could, so I was trying to go to the net and look for trash goals. I got one,” Tapper added. “Then I just kind of put a puck on net and Huxley got a tip on it and it went in.”
The Oilers’ jubilation was short-lived, however, as Calgary came right back and tied it at three only 51 seconds after Huxley’s go-ahead goal. Off a quick up-ice feed from Prazma, Canucks forward Justin Barker sped in on a partial breakaway and managed to fire the puck past Oilers netminder Parker Sawka (Cochrane, AB).
Yoder provided a happy ending for the home fans at the 1:58 mark of overtime, giving the Oilers their 18th victory of the season (and the second in a row) and putting them three points up on the Blackfalds Bulldogs for the No. 2 seed in the AJHL South Division.
The Oilers will look to continue their winning ways on Saturday when they host the Drumheller Dragons at Okotoks Centennial Arena. The two teams have alternated wins and losses in their three previous matchups this season, with Drumheller taking the most recent contest by a 3–2 score on Nov. 18. By that pattern, it could be the Oilers’ turn this weekend.
Recap: Mike Gould
Photo: Chad Goddard