Saints salvage weekend split with big win
The best way to get over a disappointing loss is to simply go out and win your next game. That’s exactly what the Spruce Grove Saints did over the weekend.
They started off on the wrong foot as they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Drumheller Dragons before rebounding to wallop the Bonnyville Pontiacs 10-1 to wrap up their recent three-game home stand.
The post-game message from the coaching staff was simple and to the point, associate coach Ryan Rechner said, speaking after the second game outside a much more happier locker room than the night before.
“For us it was about coming to the rink today and starting fresh. Today was very productive,” he understated.
A video session, arranged by head coach Bram Stephen working long into the night after the loss, set the tone and the strong effort by the Saints in the second game.
“It was a long one,” Rechner continued about watching game film. “We weren’t satisfied with yesterday’s effort and I think we got a response today,”
Respond they did. The Saints took all of 12 seconds to open the scoring in the win, when Chris Van Os-Shaw ripped a shot past the ‘Yaks goalie who likely never saw the puck streak past him. Less than a minute later, local product Cam Mitchell netted his first goal as a Saint that turned out to be the game winner. That was followed by first period markers from Sean Comrie and Logan Ganie as the home side jumped to a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Van Os-Shaw, a veteran junior A player who joined the team this year, said that it’s up to the older players on the team to lead the way and show the younger guys that one loss isn’t the end of the world.
“You never want to lose but you do gotta overcome adversity,” the big forward, who had three goals and a helper in the win, stated. “The older guys have to lead the way and set an example for the younger guys, and we did that tonight.”
Rechner agreed that the veteran players took a leadership role when it was most needed, and two guys in particular who shone in the win were singled out by the coaches to lead the charge.
“Our best players were our best players,” he said. “Bram early on challenged some of those guys and we got a good response from some of our top guys. Van Os-Shaw was a good example and I thought Comrie was very good as well. Those are two guys we sort of poked early on and our expectation is that they play at that level on a consistent basis.”
In the middle stanza the Saints continued to roll, as Damon Zimmer made it 5-0 before the Pontiacs managed to score once. Then Van Os-Shaw and Comrie each potted their second goals of the night as the home team built a 7-1 lead through 40 minutes. In the final period, Van Os-Shaw concluded his hattie, with Tanner Hickey and Parker Saretsky rounding out the night’s highlights. Nolan Kent had the win in goal, only surrendering a power play marker.
In the loss, Van Os-Shaw and Zimmer had the goals while Parker Tobin was handed a tough loss in his first assignment of the year.
From a player’s viewpoint, the flow of the second game was a lot better than that of the first.
“Yeah, for sure,” said Van Os-Shaw. “We played our game, were quick moving pucks and had lots of shots tonight. We just played faster, harder tonight.”
In comparing the two games, Rechner simply said, “I just thought we started on time today,” as opposed to the loss, where his club struggled to find consistency. “That’s something that Bram and the entire staff has preached since day one. Yesterday we weren’t able to accomplish that. Tonight, we were.”
Van Os-Shaw noted the win was big considering the disappointing loss the night prior.
“It was definitely important. It was a good win tonight, for sure.”
Going forward, the two games were really just a microcosm of a long schedule and one loss, at this time of year at least, isn’t going to make or break any hopes, said Rechner in closing.
“I think there’s a bigger picture to all of this. I think tonight we earned a little bit of respect,” with a win that other teams in the league were certain to notice. “Maintaining will certainly be a challenge but I think we’ve got a group that certainly understands that and is up for that.”
The Saints are on the road this weekend as they take part in the AJHL Showcase this weekend in Camrose, taking on the Brooks Bandits and the Dragons. They return home for a game with Lloydminster on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at the Grant Fuhr Arena before heading north to tangle with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons over the long weekend.