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Post to Post With Gord Montgomery Volume #5

Post to Post

Tobin turns in big relief effort for Saints in latest win

On a night where relievers were the order of the game in the World Series battle between Houston and Los Angeles, relief was also priority No. 1 for the Spruce Grove Saints after starting goaltender Nolan Kent went down with an injury.

But as it turned out, reliever/back-up tender Parker Tobin was ready for the unexpected challenge.

Leading 2-0, the Saints saw starter Kent hit the ice and not get back up after only 7:25 of action, necessitating the call to their bullpen, if you will. Tobin skated into the fray and with very little in the way of warm-up, stopped all but one of 28 shots he saw en route to a 4-1 win over the Camrose Kodiaks.

“It’s definitely tough,” he said of being called in cold. “Thankfully it wasn’t too far away from warm-ups so I still was a little warm and I got a good chance to stretch, but it is definitely something different than having like a full day to prepare and kind of get your mind ready.”

The one thing Tobin was thankful for was his teammates put up a strong defensive effort  in the opening 20 minutes where he faced only four shots, allowing him to get focused on the task at hand.

While he faced a limited number of shots in that opening period, things were much different in the sandwich frame, when Camrose took the play to their hosts, out-shooting the Saints 13-4 and out-scoring them 1-0. The slowdown in that period was a bit of a concern to bench boss Bram Stephen, although he noted he’s seen the Kodiaks turn in that sort of performance in the past.

“I’ve watched a lot of games from the Kodiaks perspective over the years when I was recruiting (as a college coach) and it’s a common theme that when they don’t start well in the first in the second period they’re going to come out like gang busters. We expect that push-back. I think we had trouble handling pressure at times and we got caught in a bit of a momentum swing. We weren’t making plays until late in a shift and then we were making changes and they’d go back on the attack and we’d get caught … and it was just kind of turmoil after that.”

That being said, a large part of the Saints success on this night, and in previous nights, has been the play of the penalty kill units. They were sharp against the Kodiaks, not allowing a goal in six opportunities which pleased their coach. What he wasn’t happy with though was all the unnecessary minor infractions his team committed.

“Our penalty kill, we’re doing a pretty good job of pressuring so there’s not a lot of zone time. Because there’s not a lot of zone time, there’s not a lot of (scoring) chances.

“As for the penalties, we are a pretty disciplined team. In the last two or three games we’ve killed off four or five and tonight, I think seven (six). A lot of times today it just wasn’t being aware, letting a guy get on the wrong side of us. Instead of using the proper technique and angling, we’re trying to obstruct. Other times, to be honest, we’re just over-anxious.”

One guy who didn’t have time to get anxious was Tobin, who was sharp when he needed to be in his relief role. In talking about his teammate’s injury, and perhaps being called upon for the next several games without the extent of Kent’s injury being fully known, Tobin said lots of ice time is nothing new to him.

“I ended up playing 16 in a row last year in Drayton and I can’t say I want to do that again,” he joked.  “You just have to take it day-to-day,” and when the call comes, be ready to help your team out to the best of your ability.

In the win, Logan Gainey, Jamieson Ree, Parker Saretsky and Josh Harris, with goals 18 seconds apart in the third period, gave Tobin all the offence he needed to pick up the win.

The Saints are in Sherwood Park this Friday night for a tilt with the Crusaders in their only action. Their next home game is Wednesday, Nov. 1 when they welcome in the Drayton Valley Thunder.