ROUND 1 GAME 1: Saints lead series 1-0
By: Adam Kulak
On opening night of the AJHL Playoffs, the Saints draw first blood in the series with a 2-0 shutout performance over the Drayton Valley Thunder. The only lineup change for this game was Mackenzie Harden would return to the lineup after missing the last few. Matt Davis would get his first AJHL Playoff start as the Saints take on the Thunder in Game 1.
The Saints were shaky to start this game, coming off a few days break and getting into playoff mode, it would take a few shifts to get settled in. Both teams were aggressive, the Saints established good pressure in the offensive zone, creating multiple close chances around the net. They were struggling making two or three passes and transitioning out of their zone. There were a few times where the Saints were scrambling, and the Thunder would create a lot of their scoring chances off creating turnovers. Both teams got their feet under them as the period went on. Each team had an opportunity on the powerplay but both Matt Davis and Luke Lush would stand tall. The period would end 0-0 as the Saints would lead the shots 15-11 after 20 minutes.
The Saints did a much better job of exiting their zone in the second period. They really started to take control of the game in the middle frame and opened up for a two-goal lead. The threw a lot at the net but they would eventually break through in the second half of the period. The Saints first goal of the 2019 playoffs would go to Alex Dalton. Coming down the right side, he would throw the puck on net and it would bounce off a Thunder defenseman and in to open the scoring. Drayton Valley would get into penalty trouble with two minor penalties in the final minute of the period. With the Saints on a 4v3 powerplay, TJ Lloyd would beat Luke Lush from the top of the circle, giving the Saints a 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd period. Shots in the period were 18-7 for the Saints and 33-18 after 40.
With a two-goal lead, the Saints continued their play from the second period and shut the game down. They defended the blueline very well and they were still creating chances the other way. The Thunder didn’t make it easier on themselves by giving the Saints a 5 on 3 powerplay half way through the period but the Saints powerplay looked a little bit out of sync in this one. That might have been the only negative in this game, because Matt Davis would get his 1st playoff shutout in his 1st playoff game as the Saints close out the 2-0 lead. There were notable performances in this game tonight, Alex Dalton had a very good night, opening the scoring in the game. Jordan Biro was all over the puck in the offensive zone and TJ Lloyd was solid on the backend moving the puck up ice. Matt Davis made a number of huge saves in the game on route to his shutout performance, not allowing Drayton Valley to get any momentum.
The Saints will look to take a 2-0 series lead back here tomorrow night as they get ready for Game 2, puck drop at 7:00 PM