By Adam Kulak
Returning home after a two-week road trip that saw them go 5-1-0, the Saints would pick up were they left off back home. The Saints would pepper goaltender Blake Pilon with 41 shots in this game for a 6-1 win here at Grant Fuhr Arena. They would go 2/6 on the powerplay and take it to the Canucks as Calgary struggled to generate any kind of offense in this game.
Not the start to the game that the Saints were looking for as they were sloppy in the first couple minutes of the game. Just 21 seconds in, the Saints turn it over at the opposing blueline and Cameron Pollock-Hughes races in on a 2 on 1 to beat Goaltender Braedan Stephen on the first shot of the game. They would settle in as the period went on and controlled most of the period. Canucks forward Justin Giacomin would go off for tripping, the Saints powerplay got lots of good looks but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. They would get another chance as Canucks defender Max Struss would go off for High Sticking and the Saints would capitalize with the man advantage. Tanner Hickey would blast a one-timer from the point bar down for his 5th of the season to tie the game up. Just over a minute later, the Saints would get a fortunate bounce as the Canuck defender would put it off Nick Leyer’s shin pad and in to give the Saints a 2-1 lead with 4-minutes left in the period. The Saints moved the puck very well on their powerplays and established a lot of offensive zone time. They were rewarded with a powerplay tally as they would carry a 2-1 lead into the 1st intermission. The shots were 10-4 for Spruce Grove in that period.
The second period was a better period overall, the Saints would get 23 shots in the second frame and would take it to the Canucks for most of the period. Canucks forward Max Struss would get his second minor penalty of the night for elbowing. The powerplay continued to look good but they were unable to capitalize. Just over a minute after the powerplay, the Saints would move the puck around well and Nick Leyer would receive a terrific back door feed from TJ Lloyd for his second of the game. The Saints would continue to pepper Canucks goaltender Blake Pilon throughout this period. Just under 2 minutes left in the frame, the puck would bounce off the boards behind the net right to TJ Lloyd who would give the Saints a 4-1 lead with his 4th of the season. Canucks defender Kaiden Collumb would go off for elbowing with a minute left and the Saints would take a powerplay into the third period. Shots that period were 23-6 for Spruce Grove as they continued to control the game.
They would fail to capitalize on the early advantage to start the period. The Saints would take two minor penalties in the third. Stanley Cooley would go off for hooking and Tanner hickey would get one for tripping. The Saints penalty killers were good tonight and they would kill off all four minors. Near the end of the second penalty, Parker Saretsky would break in shorthanded and circle the net to set up Cam Mitchell for the 5th goal of the night and his 5th of the year. The Saints would get another powerplay and Nick Leyer would complete the hattrick on a slap shot from the point as the Saints would cruise to a 6-1 win over the Calgary Canucks at Grant Fuhr Arena.
It wasn’t a perfect win, as the Saints struggled with their puck management in this game. They had a lot of missed passes and they weren’t very crisp in this afternoon game. They would however get better as the game went on and during the third period as they held Calgary to just 14 shots the whole game. The positives for this game were the special teams as they were very strong tonight. The Saints powerplay has struggled so far this season but they were very good in this game going 33%. They were moving the puck quickly and got lot’s of pucks to the net. They were quicker to pucks then Calgary was and were able to establish a lot of offensive zone time on the powerplay and throughout the game. They were strong on the penalty kill going 4/4 on the night. They didn’t let Calgary establish a lot of zone time on any of their powerplays. After letting in the first shot of the game, Braedan Stephen settled in and looked good and comfortable as the game went on. He wasn’t tested a lot in this game but was up to the task when he was called upon. Nick Leyer shined in this one scoring a hattrick to power the Saints offense in this game as they improve to 8-2-0 on the season and continue to lead the AJHL North Division.
The Saints are back in action Wednesday the 10th as they are in Bonnyville to take on the Pontiacs, you can listen to that game Live on Facebook with the pregame show at 7:15 and puck drop at 7:30. The Saints are back home Friday the 12th as they welcome the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.