Saints earn three valuable wins over week
Three turned out to be the number of the week for the Spruce Grove Saints.
As the league-leaders picked up three more valuable wins, two players recorded three-goal performances in the wins, 4-0 over Whitecourt, 5-4 over Bonnyville and 6-3 against the Calgary Mustangs.
What didn’t involve three though was the types of games the Saints played. The first two wins were impressive while the final one, against the team that sits the lowest in the overall standings among the week’s opponents, was somewhat haphazard.
“I think we needed to realize that wasn’t the Calgary from the start of the year,” bench boss Jason McKee said of his team’s focus perhaps being a bit off in their final tilt of the week after being razor=sharp for the first two contests. “In the last 10 games they’ve been much better and I was impressed with them. We found a way to win.”
***Saints tender MATT MURRAY keeps a close eye on a Pontiacs forward in ther 5-4 victory tis past week.
A big part of that win came thanks to captain Tyler Busch who scored the Saints first two goals, and the last, in the three-goal win. Brandon Biro had two including the game-winner while Nicholas Correale had the other.
In the Whitecourt win, while there were no goal-scoring hat tricks to be celebrated both Busch and Biro picked three assists while the shutout win was recorded by Matthew Murray.The victory boosted the Saints lead to eight points (at that time) over the North Division’s second place team. In that game, goals came from Macklin Pichonski with the game-winner, Dexter McLeod, and Riley Simpson with two.
Correale kicked off the week of threes as he netted a hat trick in the win over Bonnyville, where Biro scored the winner in a late third period rally to help the Saints keep rolling. The other Saints goal was courtesy of Simpson.
Of the three individual scoring sprees, McKee noted those sort of offensive threats takes pressure off one or two guys to handle a team’s scoring.
*** Saits forward #19 BRNADON BIRO takes the puck to the net looking for a goal on Pontiacs tender #31 Charest.
“We hadn’t had any hat tricks up until the last couple of weeks (Dondre Watson also had a hatty a week earlier) so it’s nice to spread the scoring around. You want contributions from everyone (and) if you have a threat to score with your guys on the ice all the time it makes it difficult on the other teams.”
Speaking after the last win, Correale, who had a five point week (4g, 1a) noted that it’s not easy keeping focus when you play two top teams before meeting up with a lower-level squad.
“It’s a different pace sometimes to start off,” he said of the Saints trailing the Mustangs 1-0 after 20 minutes. “We adjusted good,” after that though to take control, out-shooting the opposition 47-24 and out-scoring them 4-1 in the middle frame.
*** It wasn't all smiles as Pontiacs' Charest (seen here) looksupwards for answers as the Saints win 5-4 at home.
Of the hat trick binge by himself and his teammates as of late, Correale agreed it’s nice to have everyone contribute.
“That is definitely the goal, to spread the scoring out as much as we can. To have four equal lines going and have lots of opportunities.”
And they’ll need to keep the scoring chances coming as they head down the home stretch of their season with a lot of big games left before it ends in late February. The Saints are in Drayton Valley on Tuesday and Lloydminster on Friday before hosting Grande Prairie on Saturday at the Grant Fuhr Arena. Game time is 7 p.m.
*Photos by Dave Ross