There are times when good efforts receive little in the way of reward. Then, there are oth-er times when those efforts do pay off but in an unexpected way.
That was the case this past weekend for the Spruce Grove Saints, as they played two strong games where they dominated in shots on goal, but not in goals scored, in losing to the Bonnyville Pontiacs but claiming a great come-from-behind 3-2 win over the division leading Fort McMurray Oil Barons (MOB).
In the first game played in Bonnyville, the Saints owned the offensive highway outshoot-ing their hosts 40-19, including 21-5 in the first 20 minutes, but saw the Pontiacs drive away with the 6-4 win.
Two days later, they again held the upper hand in shots on goal against the Oil Barons — 41-19 — but this time fate treated them better as they scored a goal with 1.7 seconds left in the third period to pick up the win.
“In Bonnyville, we played well but we probably need to be a little more disciplined and I thought we did that today,” coach Bram Stephen said following the home ice victory.
While Stephen praised the Oil Barons for a strong effort, considering they were playing their third game in less than three days, and actually held a 2-1 lead late in the game, he agreed his club has to take advantage of teams in this sort of scheduling dilemma.
“It is a bit of an easier task for us because of that,” he began about the tough schedule the MOB faced. “They are a really good hockey team and full credit to them playing like that, playing their third game in three days. But yeah, it makes it a bit easier but it certain-ly isn’t one where you go “Hey, that should be our two points.” We don’t really look at any game like that. But I thought our process was good tonight. It helped they weren’t as full of energy.”
The game tying, and then winning goals, scored by Garan Magnes and Logan Ganie re-spectively, were two highlight reel markers. The first, with 2:18 left to play, came on a great pass by a diving Austin Parameter who centered the puck to Magnes who then wired it home. Then Cam Mitchell fed Ganie in front of the MOB net in the dying sec-onds and the puck found its way in for the win.
The game winner actually looked like it would wait until overtime, when with 15 seconds left on the clock, a face-off was held deep in the Saints end zone.
Ganie described what happened: “We didn’t plan to break out that way. It was a little scramble off the draw but the d-man made a good play,” to move the puck up-ice where Ganie found himself in position to have the centering pass ricochet in off his shoulder.
This win, Ganie continued was important for the Saints given the way they’d dominated play two nights earlier only to see two points slip away.
“It helps our push for first place, definitely,” he noted about the win. “And, it shows other teams in the league we’re the team to beat. We’ll take how it felt today to win that big game,” and know that efforts like this do turn out for the better more often than not.
As for putting in those strong efforts but not always getting rewarded for them, Stephen was hesitant to say things balance out in the long run, but in the sports world they gener-ally do.
“Well, I think we need to be a little better in our shot selection and in creating time and space. I think of the 41 shots (Sunday) a lot of them were from the outside. We need to learn how to take advantage of certain situations and make little bit better reads. At the end, we’re all really encouraged over the last seven, eight games (about their defensive play). The other team is only getting 23 (shots on goal) or less and that was consistent again this weekend. When you do that constantly that’s your reward,” with points show-ing up in the win column.’
Sean Comrie had the other Saints goal in the win while in Bonnyville, goals came from Jordan Biro, Ganie, Tanner Hickey and Jarrod Gourley. Parker Tobin was in net for both games.
The Saints are at home Friday and Saturday this weekend, when they host both Calgary squads. First in are the Mustangs followed by the Canucks. Both games start at 7 p.m. at the Grant Fuhr Arena.
* PHOTOS BY DAVE ROSS
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