FORT MCMURRAY, AB (March 12, 2021) – For the first time in three months it was game day in the AJHL.
However, it was the Spruce Grove Saints that had the early jump on this day. The Saints scored three first period goals en route to a 4-3 shootout win over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons at Centerfire Place on Friday night.
Jayden Davis opened the scoring for the Saints at 3:03 of the period by beating Evan Fradette with a wrist shot from the top of the circle. Davis’ early goal seemed to ignite the Saints, as Liam Watkins and Jacob Rochford scored at 5:42 and 11:35 respectively to extend the lead to 3-0 after 20 minutes of play.
Despite a slow start, it was the Oil Barons who carried the play in the 2nd. A series of shifts which saw the Oil Barons pressure the Saints in their zone was rewarded late in the period, as Tristan Kimmen scored on a short-handed breakaway at 17:34 to cut the lead to 3-1.
Kimmen’s goal came after he stole the puck from a Saints defender at the Oil Barons’ blue line and skated it the length of the ice to beat Tyler Palmer with a backhand shot.
In total, the Oil Barons outshot the Saints 12-5 in the second period, after only registering two shots in the first period.
The momentum continued to shift in the Oil Barons’ favour in the 3rd period. At 7:55, Hunter Lamb snapped a wrist shot past Palmer on the powerplay off a pass from Hassan Akl. Lamb’s goal cut the Saints’ lead to 3-2.
The Oil Barons would continue to push the pace in the third period to try and tie the game. Nickolas de Beurs would cap off that push by scoring at 18:16 off a scramble in front of Palmer to tie the game at 3. The goal was de Beurs’ first as an Oil Baron, after suffering a leg injury in September’s main camp.
Heading into overtime, the Oil Barons held a slight 28-25 edge in shots.
Despite chances at both ends of the ice in overtime, the game headed to a shootout which saw Graham Gamache and Michael Hodge score for their teams. However, it would be the Saints that registered the final tally. Graeme Hampton scored in the fourth round of the shootout to cap off a 4-3 win for the Saints.
Both teams will get to know each other well over the next month, as they’ll face each other seven more times as part of a two-team cohort under the AJHL’s Return to Play format. The two teams will meet again at Centrefire Place tomorrow night, before they faceoff in Spruce Grove on March 19 and 20.
You can catch tomorrow’s game live on HockeyTV and Country 93.3 starting with the pre-game show at 7:15.