|Thrilling OT victory pushes Oil Kings into provincial medals|
|Local Content - Local Sports|
|Written by Greg Price|
|Wednesday, 20 March 2013 16:33|
The silver-medal lining the Taber atom Oil Kings had at atom “A” hockey provincials in Lacombe over the weekend had the team play the most thrilling game of the tournament to reach the championship game.
Oil Kings were down 3-0 in the first period to Drayton Valley with a couple of bad bounces and were also down 5-1 before rallying back for a 7-6 overtime win to make the championship final.
“It was unreal. We kept telling the boys this team is beatable, concentrate on their defence and drive it wide,” said Kyle James, head coach of the atom Oil Kings, with the bench and dressing room pep talks the staff gave the kids to keep their focus. “It was pretty entertaining. The refs even said that was one of the best games they’ve ever refed.”
With shots near even on both sides, there was plenty of intrigue in the game in the waning minutes, according to James. Still down a goal, the staff had to make the decision whether to pull goalie Brayden Peters, but keeping him in proved fortuitous.
“We were debating pulling the goalie. We left him in and the puck ended up coming back in our end right on the goalie. Our defence ended up picking up the puck, rattled it off the glass where Kolby (James) ended up grabbing it and scored with 34 seconds left going wide around the defence,” said James.
As wild as the finish was to regulation, overtime proved just as dramatic as Kolby James capped off a hat trick at the 3:33 mark of overtime which sent Drayton Valley home on a highlight-reel goal.
“Kolby got the puck up the middle where it was one-on-two, he faked the slapshot and split the ‘D’,” said Kyle James, in describing the goal that assured the Oil Kings a provincial medal.
“He went on the goalie with tremendous speed, pulled the goalie wide and backhanded it in.”
Max Nevil, Cody Stange, Treyten Halvorson and Tristan Miller also scored for the Oil Kings in the semifinal. Colby Garner, Tyran Kiss and Halvorson all had assists.
“The tournament was kind of speculating it would be a Bonnyville (3-2 loss to Olds in the semis) Drayton Valley final,” said James.
“For us to upset Drayton Valley, that was a huge victory for the boys. Our expectations were to make the semifinal and when we won the semifinal we were ‘holy smokes.’ We exceeded our expectations by far, the kids played so hard.”
Unfortunately, the mentally and physically draining semifinal had a spent Oil Kings team going up against Olds in the gold-medal championship, who had blown away all of its competition in round-robin play, beating everyone by 10 goals or more, except for Taber which put up the best fight in a 5-3 loss previously.
The championship final proved a 5-0 blanking by Olds of the Oil Kings, outshooting Taber 50-12 in the process.
“It was such hard work for the boys that semifinal game. The three lines worked so damn hard that when we got to that gold medal game, we literally ran out of gas by the end of the game,” said James.
“The semifinal took so much out of us, when we got to the final we just weren’t deep enough to go any farther.”
Oil Kings round-robin play included a 9-2 win over Sexsmith, and a 5-3 loss to Olds, being outshot 63-20 with Brayden Peters solid in net keeping them in the game. The round-robin record also included a 12-3 victory over Devon and a 5-5 draw with Wetaskwin.
Carter Deboer, Stange, James, Jayce Jensen, Miller, Nevil, Carson Haynes, Garner, Josh Verloop, Dallas Cummins, Carson Cleland, Kiss, and Halvorson all had goals and/or assists during the Oil Kings’ silver-medal run.
“Throughout the whole round robin, the team competed hard. They came out with high energy for every game, super pumped for every game,” said James.
“They played hard every game. You can’t really say they let up in any one game. Goaltending was top form for us once again.”
The silver-medal finish put a nice exclamation point on the season for the atom ‘A’ Oil Kings.
“It was an excellent way to end our season,” said James.
“All of us coaches told the boys we were very proud of how they played. It was very exciting where we told the boys you’ll remember this for years to come.”