Saints fall 5-2 to Oilers
By: Adam Kulak
The Saints didn?t have the start to the game that they wanted and just couldn?t get their feet under them tonight. Okotoks came out fast, jumped out to a lead and continued to build on it as they cruise to a 5-2 victory over the Saints here in Okotoks. Lineup changes after the trade deadline as newly acquired defenders Olson Werenka and Michael Bladon made their Saints debuts on the backend. Breck McKinley was called up again for the Saints for his 8th game of the season with the team.
It looked like the long bus ride down to Okotoks seem to hit the Saints in this opening period. The Oilers looked faster, more rested, and they came out hard in this game. The Saints could not exit their zone cleanly and transition from defense to offense. Every time the Oilers got the puck, they were able to get into the Saints zone and keep it there for extended periods of time.
Whenever they lost the puck, they were right on top of it to get it back with guys for support and the Saints as a result were unable to maintain possession and spend more time in the offensive zone. Okotoks would open the scoring 3 minutes in as Jack Works would beat Matt Davis coming down his off wing as he gives Okotoks the all important first goal.
They would extend their lead late in the period off a Saints turnover in the neutral zone. Michael Hagen started a nice passing play coming into the zone, hitting Brandon Machado for a 2 on 1 who would set up Brayden Morrison on the cross-crease feed as the Oilers get out to a 2-0 lead. The Saints didn?t get their first shot of the game until 6 minutes left in the period and took 2 penalties.
Shots in the period were 11-3 in favor of the Oilers. The Saints will need to bounce back with a much better period in the final 40 minutes if they want to win this game.
The Saints should much improvement in the second, but the period would not start the way that they wanted it to. Mark Pasemko would score a minute into the period just after the Okotoks powerplay expired to make it 3-0 for the Oilers.
After that, the Saints started doing a better job of managing the puck and breaking out of their own zone. They were able to create multiple shifts where they hemmed Okotoks in their own zone. They were working the puck down low and, in the corners, and opportunities started to develop for them.
7 minutes into the period, Cole Basnett would break in alone, out muscle an Oiler back checker, and beat Brady Parker five hole. It was a great backhand forehand move by Basnett to score on his former team and the Saints continued to try and get life in this game.
A positive throughout this game is the Saints killed off another penalty and have gone 3/3 on the kill so far this game. It was a much better performance for the Saints in period #2 but they still need to generate more shots and shots from the high danger areas in the third. Shots are 21-7 for Okotoks as the score would stay 3-1 after 40 minutes.
For the third straight time, Okotoks would score early to start the period. Liam Freeborn would beat Matt Davis top shelf from the high slot. Davis might like that one back, but it was a great shot by Freeborn to give Okotoks back the three-goal lead.
The Saints had more shots in the third period alone then they did in the first two combined, as they tried to build off their second period to try and get back in the game. Nick Leyer would find the back of the net late in the period, after a scramble in front, he would jam in the loose puck to make it a two-goal game once again.
The Saints had jump after that goal and the next shift they tried to push hard for another. Bram Stephen pulled Matt Davis with 2:30 to go in the period as they made one last push. But that would be as close as they get, Zan Kindrachuk would add an empty net goal with 2 minutes left as Okotoks caps off a dominating 5-2 victory.
The Oilers were definitely the vastly superior team in this game, the Saints looked sleepy to start this game and Okotoks took it to them hard. Especially in the first period where the Saints couldn?t get out of their zone. They got better as the game went on, but it still wasn?t nearly enough to turn the game around.
Olson Werenka and Michael Bladon both got better and more comfortable as the game went on and they both had fairly good games in their debuts. It could have been much worse than 2-0 after 1 if it weren?t for Matt Davis. He was sharp for most of this game and gave the Saints chances to regroup.
The Saints will look to bounce back Sunday as they are home to take on the Bonnyville Pontiacs. Puck drop is at 2:00 PM and there is a Skate with the Saints after the conclusion of the game.