The Ooks have been busy over the past month and a bit and here is your festive update! After a lot of hard work, the Ooks are in first place in the standings going into the break—way to go Ooks! We beat our rivals, the Grant MacEwan Griffins 1-0 in double overtime to seal our spot at the top of the league. The Ooks played the Griffins over the course of two weekends, one game per weekend. Going in to this matchup, the Griffins were two points behind the Ooks. The series started at the MacEwan rink where the Ooks opened the scoring on a sweet shot from #16 Megan Leblanc. Unfortunately, the Ooks didn’t hold the lead for long as the Griffins tied it up on a shot from the point. The game battled on with both teams having great chances at either end but the Ooks couldn’t get the upper hand as regulation ended. The scoreboard didn’t see a change through two periods of overtime.
The Ooks were nervous going into the shootout, but the coaches couldn’t have been happier. Assistant coach Jason Stephens loves overtime, he was just having a good time simply being there. #18 Verca Kuzelova opened the shootout with a nifty little deke that put the puck in the net, but the refs called it off later, saying it “was a rebound”. The MacEwan Griffins went next and scored. #16 Megan Leblanc went second and tried to put it around the goalie but clipped the pad and the puck stayed out of the net. The shootout was finished off with #21 Carlin Boey with a quick snipe blocker side, but the Ooks couldn’t solve the MacEwan netminder and they fell 2-1. Kaitlyn Slator made 40 saves and truly did her part helping the Ooks toward a win, but the players couldn’t get the puck in the net enough times.
Welcome to “Meet the Firsts”!
We’re introducing #9 Kylin Ziemmer, #22 Brooklyn Colborn, #8 Delaney Martin and #30 Rachel Fontinha.
Kylin (Kylin) Ziemmer is an 18-year-old defense who is taking Business Administration. She is from Mayerthorpe, AB and played in the RMFHL last year for the Whitecourt Wolves. Brooklyn (Brook) Colborn is an 18-year-old winger who is taking Personal Fitness Training. She is from Delisle, SK.and played Midget AAA last year for the Swift Current Wildcats. Delaney (Deliney) Martin is a 23-year-old winger who is taking Personal Fitness Training. She is from Lac la Biche, AB and played female junior hockey last year for the Edmonton Wolves. Rachel (Rach) Fontinha is a 21-year-old goalie who is taking Academic Upgrading. She is from Penticton, B.C..
The second game in the match-up between the top two teams in the league took it way back old school, to the origins of the game—an outdoor rink! The two teams travelled to Falun, AB for an experience they’ll never forget. The teams got changed at the local high school then got back on their busses in all of their gear to go to the rink. The minute we stepped on the ice it was an incredible experience. The fresh air filled our noses, we were surrounded by snow covered trees and the ice felt different, crisper and softer than rink ice.
The Ooks came out strong and dominated the game for the first ten minutes. At the ten minute mark, the Ooks took a penalty and it was time for a scrape. After the ice was cleared, the Ooks went on the defensive for the next two minutes as they killed off their penalty, but the Griffins had momentum from their powerplay and were able to keep up the offensive edge for the rest of the period.
The snow began to fall harder in the second period and it was getting harder for players to see and carry the puck. The snow was blowing into eyes and was slowing down the puck, so much so that stickhandling became useless. Those of us with bubbles who hadn’t opted for cages were absolutely fine because the thick plastic shield provided us a cover from the snow. The second period remained scoreless with a clean (not just a scrape) after the buzzer.
The third period was very even and went back and forth for both teams. The snow was making the game very difficult, but both teams battled on. MacEwan was letting the snow affect them negatively more so than the Ooks, who were prepared for this sort of thing. They dominated the last five minutes of the third period, but were still unable to get any pucks past the MacEwan goalie.
As the game went into overtime, both NAIT coaches were very happy. “We’re going to try and get everyone out for this overtime,” said head coach Stef Thompson. “We’ve got the point, we’re tied with MacEwan even if they win, and we’re having fun, this is all we could ask for,” added Jason.
Four-on-four overtime went back and forth pretty healthily but there weren’t any good scoring chances. The Ooks were pumped going into three-on-three, but they were nervous about what would happen if they had to go into the shootout again against MacEwan. The Griffins spent most of the three-on-three overtime in their own end as the Ooks dominated. After several close scoring chances #16 Megan Leblanc was able to shovel the puck into the net with only 7.1 seconds left to win the game for the Ooks and secure their first place spot going into the break. The players then had a dinner and dance to attend, hosted by the community of Falun. The two teams ate tasty food and had some fun in a question and answer game, as well as a live auction.
The Ooks are participating in a fun, game-filled December Cup this weekend (intersquad games). They’re all very excited for the break, to be able to go home and see their families, friends and loved ones. On behalf of the Ooks, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays and we’ll see you in January, ready for the rest of the season!