Saints Beat Thunder 2-1 in a Shootout
By: Adam Kulak
With the Spruce Grove Saints and Drayton Valley Thunder taking each other on at the Grant Fuhr Arena, you just knew this is how the game would go. After a close back and forth contest, the Saints would get the better of the Thunder in the shootout. Stanley Cooley would score the shootout winner and Matt Davis would stop 20 of 21 shots including all 3 in the shootout as the Saints win by a final score of 2-1.
? Spruce Grove Saints (@sgsaints) January 8, 2020
The Saints would open the scoring early in this game as Adam Hall gets them on the board just 5 minutes into the game. Seth Fyten would try and cut out front with the puck and Hall would pick up the loose puck in the slot and shoot it through traffic, beating Eric Ward for the 1-0 lead. It was a very close period on both sides, the Saints outshot Drayton Valley, but the Thunder had just as many quality scoring chances.
The Saints had a better start to the game and would get the lone goal, but the Thunder pushed back with good opportunities of their own. That would be how the period would end, the shots were 12-7 in favor of the Saints as they hold a one goal lead heading into the second period.
The Saints weren?t able to generate as much in the second period compared to what they did in the first. Part of that was they spent more time killing penalties as they started to get a little bit undisciplined at times. It was still a closely played game in the period, but Drayton Valley would get the only goal of the middle frame.
The Saints would take their second penalty of the period 7 minutes in and Drayton Valley would make them pay on it. Jesse Pomeroy would feed Tanner Hopps down low and he would beat Matt Davis through the five-hole as the Thunder would tie this game up at 1. They continued their good play in the second period, and they were rewarded for it with a powerplay marker to square this game up.
It started to get chippy as the period went on, there were multiple scrums later in the period and there was 23 penalty minutes handed out in just under 2 minutes of play. A lot of this period was played on special teams and the Saints really couldn?t get into much of a rhythm throughout the second. The shots were 7-6 for the Thunder in period 2 as they knot this game up going into the final 20 minutes.
The Saints would have to kill off two more penalties in the beginning half of the period, but after that, they started to put the pressure on. It was a tight game all night long but as the third period went on with a 1-1 tie, the Saints started to turn up their play looking for the go-ahead goal. They turned up the forechecking pressure, closing down Drayton Valley?s time and space and that resulted in creating rushes the other way. They would come close to finding the lead a couple times, but they weren?t able to break the tie as both teams would head to extra time.
These two teams just can?t seem to play a game here at the Grant Fuhr Arena without it going to a shootout. After several rushes and opportunities, the Saints weren?t able to finish on them and they would go to a shootout with Drayton Valley for the 3rd time this season. The shootout wouldn?t last too long, Stanley Cooley would snipe on upstairs in Round 2 and Matt Davis shut down Tanner Hopps in Round 3 to give the Saints the 2-1 victory and their 3rd win in a row.
Like I said in the first two periods, this was an evenly played game all night, Drayton Valley did a good job of getting pucks to the dangerous areas and getting several shots from the slot. The Saints were getting back too their game of being aggressive and closing down Drayton Valley?s space to move the puck.
There were moments where Drayton Valley controlled the play in this game, but the Saints were the better team in the third period and eventually pulled it out in the shootout. Matt Davis was terrific in this game as he faced many good chances and stopped 20 of 21 shots. Luigi Benincasa, Evan Arnold, Brayden Koch and Breck McKinley all came up and played solid in this game as well.
The Saints will hit the road this Friday as they take on the Okotoks Oilers at 7:00 PM. They are back home this Sunday as they host an afternoon contest with the Bonnyville Pontiacs.