Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Blackfalds Bulldogs
The Blackfalds Bulldogs’ disappointing 5-3 Saturday night loss to the Brooks Bandits meant they lost their game in hand over the Okotoks Oilers, with the Oilers and Bulldogs going into their Tuesday night affair playing 52 games apiece. A Bulldogs regulation win would mean Blackfalds and Okotoks would go level on 67 points for second place in the AJHL South.
The Okotoks Oilers came out flying in the first period of play and were rewarded in just 80 seconds, with Hunter Sawka deflecting in a long Jagger Tapper wrist shot through the legs of Matthew Hennessey to make it 1-0. Okotoks controlled the entirety of the first half of the first period, dominating the first ten minutes. Jace Moffat’s tripping penalty gave Blackfalds a powerplay opportunity and a chance to swing the momentum in their favour. They did so, thanks to Tyler Wallace tipping a Brett Meerman shot-pass past Okotoks goaltender Alexander Scheiwiller to make it 1-1. Wallace and Meerman would combine again just minutes later, with Meerman feeding Wallace in the slot for a one-timer that was tipped through Scheiwiller’s legs by Jayden Joly to make it 2-1.
After the first period in which Blackfalds managed to escape with a 2-1 lead despite an 18-9 shot margin in favour of Okotoks, the Oilers came out hungry to push again in the second, but it was another tripping penalty by the Oilers that would take the wind out of their sails and present the Bulldogs with yet another powerplay opportunity, and it was one that Blackfalds’ red-hot man advantage would again take advantage of. Jason Siedem’s cross-ice pass found Brett Meerman at the top of the right circle. Meerman wound up as if ready to shoot, before slinging a perfect pass to Tyler Wallace who deflected in his second goal of the game to make it 3-1 for the Bulldogs. Both teams traded chances as the second period went on, with the best of the bunch falling to the Okotoks Oilers. Matthew Hennessey denied Conyr Hellyer and Zeth Kindrachuk on a two-on-zero rush, ostensibly breaking up Hellyer’s cross-crease pass attempt with a left pad save.
Okotoks led Blackfalds 33-19 in shots through 40 minutes, but three points each for Brett Meerman and Tyler Wallace helped Blackfalds to their 3-1 lead. Blackfalds’ perfect powerplay went to work again in the third period, with the man advantage yielding the identical result to the previous two, as Brett Meerman’s one-timed shot produced a rebound for Tyler Wallace to force his third goal of the game past Alexander Scheiwiller in the Oilers goal. Wallace would add his fourth goal of the game into an empty net to seal the deal at 5-1 Blackfalds.
The Bulldogs defeat the Oilers for the second time this season, tying them for second place in the South division with 67 points. Blackfalds’ weekends with back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, first in Canmore followed by a huge game against Okotoks on Saturday night. Before returning to Blackfalds, the Oilers host the Whitecourt Wolverines Friday. This weekend could be Blackfalds’ opportunity to take a lead over the Oilers in second place as the regular season continues to march to the close.