ROUND 1 GAME 4: Saints win series 3-1!
By: Adam Kulak
After a tough 1-0 loss 24 hours earlier, the Saints came out with everything they had and defeated the Thunder 4-3, sending them to the second round of the AJHL Playoffs. Same lineups for the Saints tonight, Matt Davis would once again start in goal as the Saints look to bounce back tonight in Game 4.
Just like last game, the opening period featured a lot of penalties, there were 7 minor penalties in the first 20 minutes. The first powerplay opportunity the Saints got they capitalized on. Just under 7 minutes in, Cory Babichuk would find Jordan Biro out front as he beats Luke Lush to give the Saints the early lead. The Saints did in this period what makes them successful, they were transitioning up ice well and they were aggressive on the forecheck. The Biro goal was off a high danger shot that the Saints struggled to generate last game. They were starting to break through Drayton Valley’s defensive structure and that’s something that they need to continue to do if they want to score against Luke Lush. Shots in the period were 9-8 Saints as they hold a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.
A lot more scoring in the second period as the Saints and Thunder traded goals back and forth. Jeremy Klessens would tie the game up 2 minutes in off a shot from the corner that squeaks through Davis. Just over a minute later, Alex Dalton responds with a backdoor goal to make it 2-1. Only two penalties in the middle frame, both to the Saints mid way through the period. The Saints and Davis killed off the first minor, but they were unable to kill them both. At the 15-minute mark, Brett Bamber’s one timer from the point would find its way through as the Thunder tie the game back up at 2. The Thunder forgot a couple times that one of the most important shifts are after a goal is scored and the Saints caught them sleeping twice. It wouldn’t take the Saints very long to respond again as Parker Saretsky’s shot pass would redirect in as the Saints make it 3-2 just 23 seconds later. That is how the period would end, the shots after 40 were 20-15 Saints as they once again hold a one goal lead.
The Drayton Valley Thunder were basically holding on for dear life the entire third period. The Saints spent almost the entire period in the Thunder zone in a dominant display of puck possession and scoring chances. The Thunder would manage to tie the game 3-3 8 minutes in on a scramble in front as Kabe Bleay would get the goal. After that, I don’t think the Saints left the offensive zone. All Drayton Valley could do was ice the puck as the Saints outshot the Thunder 19-9 in the final frame. In the dying seconds of the period, it looked like Luke Lush would rob the Saints again. The Saints pushed right until the end and with 9 seconds left to play, Cory Babichuk would stamp the Saints ticket to the Second Round. His point shot would find its way through as the Saints defeat the Drayton Valley Thunder 4-3, eliminating them in 4 games.
One thing I want to say to the Drayton Valley Thunder is that you guys have nothing to hang your heads at. Obviously, no one likes moral victories, but you guys played fantastic all series long. It felt like a 7-game series with every game being a 1 goal game and how close and demanding the games were.
Congrats again and best of luck in 2019-2020! As for the Saints, they will head to Bonnyville Friday for Game 1 of the North Division Semi Final against the Bonnyville Pontiacs!