ROUND 1 GAME 2: Saints lead series 2-0.
By: Adam Kulak
It was a nail bitter right until the bitter end. The Saints fended off Drayton Valley’s late push to secure the 2-1 win here at the Grant Fuhr Arena. No lineup changes in this game as the Saints would go with the exact same lineup as Game 1. Davis between the pipes again as the Saints would look to take a 2-0 series lead.
There was no shaky start in this game, it would only take 31 seconds for the Saints to find the back of the net. Dylan Bourlai would snip it on Luke Lush on the Saints 2nd shot of the game and his 1st of the playoffs as the Saints jump out right away. The Saints had 7 shots in the first 2 minutes of this game, they came out flying and put Drayton Valley on their heels right away. The Thunder would regroup and find their legs as the period went on, but the Saints kept control of this game. Their powerplay did struggle in the period as the had some trouble entering the zone and Drayton valley made it toughfor them to get pucks to the slot. Bourlai’s goal would be the only one in the first, the Saints outshot the Thunder 11-6 in the opening frame to keep the 1-0 lead.
Once again, the Saints score in the first 30 seconds of the period. Carrying over a powerplay from the first, Logan Ganie would blast one from the right side to increase the Saints lead to 2. Drayton Valley would respond with a good period and they pushed back against the Saints in this period. 8 minutes into the period, the Thunder would get a powerplay and Matthew Kinash would capitalize, cutting the lead in half. The Thunder would be able to build momentum off that goal and the period would be back and forth. They were physical and they made sure to make things tough on the Saints whenever they got the chance. They wouldn’t find the equalizer as the Saints hold on to the 2-1 lead heading into the final period. Shots in the period were 8-8 and 19-14 after 40 minutes.
The final period was tight checking and it came right down to the wire. Earlier in the period the Saints would put the Thunder on a 5 on 3 after Basnett would go off for holding and Matt Davis would put it out of play on an unfortunate break. Davis and the Saints penalty killers did a fantastic job of killing it off to preserve the one goal lead. Drayton Valley played very well in the final 40 minutes of this game, they gave it everything they had in the final frame, but Matt Davis would shut the door on them. Shots in the period were 11-10 Drayton Valley. The Thunder would call a timeout and pull Luke Lush with a minute to go. The Saints kept everything they could to the outside and as the seconds ticked down, Drayton Valley couldn’t find the tying goal. With the 2-1 win, the Saints are now a win away from moving on to the second round of the AJHL Playoffs.
The Saints will look to close out the series Sunday night as they take on the Thunder in Drayton Valley for Game 3, puck drop at 6:30 PM.