Post Game Wrap Up: Saints defeat Thunder in a Shootout on Opening Night.
There?s nothing like opening night of hockey season, September 13th finally came, and the Saints kicked things off with a shootout victory tonight in front of 1,086 fans here at the Grant Fuhr Arena. Things started on a feel-good note, as the Saints and their fans welcomed Hudson Pedlar to the ice for the Ceremonial faceoff. He also was celebrating his birthday and was surprised with the entire Grant Fuhr faithful signing happy birthday to him which is a moment I?m sure he won?t ever forget. The Saints welcomed their first-round playoff opponent last spring as they would kick off the first of a home and home against the Drayton Valley Thunder. Without further or due, let?s drop the puck on this season.
The Saints came out and did a few goods things to start this game. A good amount of the first period was spent in the Drayton Valley zone as the Saints were able to establish possession time in the offensive zone. They had good sticks and they were strong on the cycle, creating a couple real good looks. While the Saints had most of the zone time in the first period, it would be Drayton Valley who would strike first in this game. An unfortunate miscue at the Saints blueline would give Thunder player Jake Aston an A+ chance all alone and he would make no mistake, capitalizing on just their 3rd shot of the night. While the Saints did get a couple good opportunities, they will need to find a way to turn more of their shots into high danger shots in the 2nd and 3rd. The shots were 14-8 for the Saints but Drayton Valley would hold a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes in this game.
The second period saw the Drayton Valley Thunder outshoot the Saints 11-4 as they struggled to get anything going. The Saints first couple shifts they came out quick and established good zone time again for the first couple minutes. But those first couple shifts, and zone time were without a single shot. Things weren?t looking ideal in this game after 40 minutes but in the third period, the Saints of old started to show up as the period went on.
Drayton Valley would get a powerplay 7 minutes into the game but that wouldn?t matter to Cam Mitchell as he enjoys scoring shorthanded goals. He picked off a pass in the Saints zone and while on a 2 on 1, he would beat Rory Dumelie blocker side for the Saints first goal of the season. It was a big goal at a big time, but Cam wasn?t done there, he said follow me boys I?m going to get us back in control of this game. On the rush, Bruce MacGregor would feed Mitchell streaking in the far side and he would undress the defender and go high glove for his second in 3 minutes. Things were really starting to turn around after that, but the Saints would put Drayton Valley back on the Powerplay late in the period. Matthew Kinash would redirect Jeremy Klessens shot and the Thunder would tie it back up to force Overtime. The game would eventually go to a shootout where Ryan Peckford delivered the shootout winner, giving the Saints the 3-2 win here on opening night.
It wasn?t always pretty by any means; the Saints were a bit rusty to start this game. The first 40 minutes they had a tough time managing the puck and couldn?t get their transition game going as Drayton Valley did a great job defensively causing a lot of turnovers. They generated good looks off the cycle, but they couldn?t quite turn that into high danger chances enough until the third period. They started to find their game and look like themselves as the period went on and the got two quick goals from Mitchell and started to build momentum off that.
The Saints hit the road for another matchup with the Thunder in Drayton Valley tomorrow night, puck drop is 7:00pm.