By Terry Martin
After an 81 day break in the season, the Spruce Grove Saints (3-1-0) look to continue their strong play against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (4-0-0) with two games up north this weekend. Both teams will be fighting for first place in the division, playing eight games against each other in March and early April as part of the AJHL’s return to play plan. The puck drops at 7:30pm in Fort McMurray on Friday, March 12th and Saturday, March 13th. Fans can catch all the action on the Saints Radio Network (mixlr.com/sprucegrovesaints) starting at 7:15pm both nights.
The Saints were last in action back on November 20th and 21st with two home games against the Grand Prairie Storm, managing to split the weekend series with one win and one loss. The first game ended up going to a shootout after Adam Hall, Jake Aston and Niko Jovanovic scored goals in the 3rd period to send the game to overtime. After overtime solved nothing, the game would head to a shootout. The skills competition would go through 12 shooters before a winner was decided. Luigi Benincasa would be the eventual hero, going five hole on Storm goaltender Garin Bjorklund to grab the extra point for the Saints.
Game two was not disappointing either with plenty of goals and even a fight between Adam Hall and Connor Casparie. After a hard fought battle, the Saints first loss of the season would unfortunately come when their relentless final minute attack did not result in the tying goal.
The Oil Barons opened their season against the Drayton Valley Thunder, winning both games 3-0 and scoring all three goals late in each of their games. Fort McMurray then faced off against the Lloydminster Bobcats, keeping them to four goals in two games.
Players to watch this weekend:
For the Spruce Grove Saints, Minnesota-Mankato commit and captain Graham Gamache is tied for the league lead in points with seven (4G, 3A). Breck McKinley is second on the team in points with six and has been the go to shutdown defenseman so far this season.
For the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, goaltender Evan Fradette is expected to get the call in between the pipes. He leads the league in save percentage (0.974), GAA (0.67) and shutouts (2).
Once again, fans can catch all the action on the Saints Radio Network (mixlr.com/sprucegrovesaints) starting at 7:15pm both nights live from Fort McMurray as the Saints restart the 2020-2021 season!