By Terry Martin
The Saints and Thunder battled it out for the second time in as many nights to see who will be going to the AJHL final. Spruce Grove took game 1 at home, coming out on top 5-2 during a fiery Friday night.
Both teams would come out of the gate hard with some big hits and a few fights. It would take 15 minutes but Kadyn Chabot would eventually open the scoring for Drayton Valley on their power play. The Saints would keep up the pressure but the Thunder would score the only goal of the period. The Saints would trail 1-0 but would outshoot Drayton Valley 17-3 after 20 minutes of play.
The Saints acted early in the second period, as Ewan McPherson would score on his own rebound just 2 minutes into the frame. Both teams would head back to the dressing room shortly after, as a repair was needed on the Drayton Valley bench, causing a 35-minute delay. Kadyn Chabot would score right after the break for the Thunder with 11:41 left in the 2nd period. Brett Bamber would then score 5 minutes later to make it 3-1 for the Thunder. The Saints would push back but would not see the back of the net for the rest of the period. Spruce Grove would continue to fire the puck from everywhere, outshooting the Thunder 35-12 after 2 periods of play.
The Saints would cut the lead to 1 early in the period as Caiden Gault would fire the puck blocker side on the power play. The Saints would spend the whole period firing the puck on net but Jackson Berry would keep the lead for his team. Nikola Jovanovic would be the hero of the game, tipping the puck in from slot with 40 seconds left in the game to tie it up at 3. The game would head into overtime for the first time in this series, and after 60 minutes of play the Saints would outshoot the Thunder 55-16.
The Saints and Thunder would play more defensively in the overtime period as each team would look for the next goal. The Thunder would take a costly penalty later in the frame, hooking up Benincasa as he drove towards the net. The Saints would set up traffic in front of the net and Brett Pfoh would fire the puck post and in to give Spruce Grove the 2-0 series lead.
Final shots after 73 minutes would favour the Saints 62-24.
Both teams will now head down to Drayton Valley for games 3 and 4 on Tuesday April 12 and Wednesday April 13.