The Spruce Grove Saints edged the Drayton Valley Thunder 3-2 on Tuesday night to win their third straight game and improve to 16-2-1 since the beginning of October.
Isaac Farrah, Jordan Thomas and Jarid Hauptman scored second period goals for Spruce Grove, providing just enough offence to escape a third period storm. The Thunder’s Jamie Waddington scored twice, but the Saints lead was preserved with some solid defence in the final eight minutes.
“It was an up and down game,” said Saints goaltender Brett Zarowny, who made 16 saves for the win. “The first two periods were very solid, but they played with a lot of desperation in the third and outworked us.”
Nonetheless, Zarowny added that good teams find a way to win, and that’s exactly what the Saints did late in the game.
“In the past we’ve had issues with having a lead and responding well in the third,” said head coach Jason McKee. “But for the most part I was happy with our effort. We did a real good job of breaking the puck out, they showed some different looks and kinds of pressure and we did well beating it.”
The Saints play their next five games on the road, not returning home until Friday Dec. 12.
Taylor Lotoski was named the home team’s player of the game for a fine effort, and said that sticking to the coach’s system was key in grinding out the victory.
“My boots were moving out there, I felt like I had a step on the opponent,” Lotoski said. “We’re back on a roll after that loss (Nov. 15 to Fort McMurray). It’s good to get back on track.”
McKee says the key to the Saints attack is being able to use every man on their roster when they are called upon.
“We try to roll our lines, it’s important to use everyone,” said McKee. “If we’re playing well and using all our guys, it keeps us fresh and that’s a hard thing to play against. So we try to create lots of depth.”
The Saints outshot the Thunder 32-18 and scored twice on three opportunities with the man advantage. Zarowny says that though the team nearly coughed up the lead, he never doubted that he would shut the door for the victory.
“The biggest thing is to try not to over think and to keep composed,” the goaltender said. “The whole team is looking at you, I just tried to be a calming presence.”
The Saints were ranked the seventh best Junior A team in the country last week, and will try to widen their 10-point grip on first place when their road swing begins tonight (Nov. 28) in Canmore.