By Terry Martin
The Saints and Thunder faced off in game 1 of the North Final as Spruce Grove continues their mission for their 6th AJHL championship. Drayton Valley is coming off a huge upset against the 2nd place Oil Barons, defeating them in 6 games. In their 1st round matchup, the Thunder took down the Bobcats in 5 games, winning 2 games in extra time. The Saints and Thunder played each other 6 times in the regular season, with Spruce Grove winning 5 games and Drayton Valley winning the last meeting in overtime.
The Saints would not see much offensively throughout the first ten minutes of the game as they had to kill off 10 minutes in penalties. Spruce Grove would be successful on all three opportunities and keep the game tied 0-0. It would take until the last 2 minutes of the period but the Saints would finally break the tie. Logan Acheson would come down the wall and fire the puck glove side to put the Saints up 1-0. Both teams would end up tied 8-8 in shots after the opening period of play.
Drew Sutton would open the scoring for the Thunder to tie the game 1-1 with 17:23 left in the 2nd period. The Saints would keep up the pressure throughout the period to try and get the momentum back. Acheson would then fire a bomb from the blueline to put the Saints up 2-1 with just under 10 minutes left in the period. The Saints would take a commanding lead in shots after 40 minutes of play, 32-15.
Jayden Davis would give the Saints an early 2 goal lead just a few seconds into the final period, ripping the puck glove side. Kadyn Chabot would come right back and scores for the Thunder with 17:23 left in the game. Cade Mason would then restore the 2-goal lead after jamming home the rebound in the crease with 10 minutes left. Brett Pfoh would then put the game out of reach with 2 minutes left, jamming home the rebound in the crease. The Saints would win 5-2 and outshoot the Thunder 45-21 after 3 periods of play.
The Saints take a 1-0 series lead and will look to make it 2 tomorrow night back at the Grant Fuhr Arena.