Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Blackfalds Bulldogs
The Spruce Grove Saints made their first and only visit to the Eagle Builders Centre Wednesday to take on Blackfalds for the first time this season. The Saints, first in the north, came in with six more points than Blackfalds.
Despite not scoring on three powerplay opportunities through one, the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead into the break, with Brett Meerman turning home a loose puck in front. After a strong first twenty minutes, Blackfalds continued that momentum into the second, taking a 2-0 lead through Jayden Joly, who found a rebound in front of the net and slid the puck through Zac Onyskiw. However, after Spruce Grove had taken the first four penalties of the game, Blackfalds took three of the next four, and it was on one of these Saints powerplays that Spruce Grove forced home a goal to get back into the game. Charlie Zolin, having come out of his crease to play the puck, had it take a strange bounce off the end boards straight in front of the net, where Simon Lovsin was able to barely force the puck over the goal line. Blackfalds would ramp up the pressure and push back, and a long wrist shot from the blue line caused the Saints all kinds of problems. Kody Willick forced a rebound through Onyskiw and into the crease, where Breck McKinley covered the puck with his hand. That gave Brett Meerman a penalty shot opportunity that he converted, making it 3-1 halfway through the second.
The Saints, now down 3-1, pushed back hard, and managed to get another goal back late in the second period, with Caden Cabana firing home a rebound that had come out from behind the net to make it 3-2. Ethan Kronewitt would fire home a beautiful pass from Liam Watkins less than three minutes into the third period to tie the game up at three, setting up a grandstand finish. With under five minutes to go, the Bulldogs would take back-to-back tripping penalties, giving the Saints a five-on-three opportunity, and on that five-on-three, Ewan McPherson would fire one past Zolin’s glove to make it 4-3 Spruce Grove, a scoreline that would stand as the final. The Bulldogs lose their second straight and have now lost four of their last five games. Blackfalds has Canmore at the Eagle Builders Centre Friday, before going on a road trip to close out November.