Bulldogs win first BCHL game over Okotoks 4-3

Photo and Article credit: Alessia Proietti, rdnewsNOW

Their first game in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), the Blackfalds Bulldogs won 4-3 against the Okotoks Oilers Friday night at the Eagle Builders Centre.

Going through some growing pains moving from the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), certain game statistics such as shots on goal and player stats should soon be transferred and updated to reflect current data, said Bulldogs Head Coach Doug Quinn.

Mid-way through the first period, the Bulldogs’ Luke Dahlen rushed to tap in a goal from within the crease, with the puck going through the five-hole of Oilers goaltender Mikael Kingo. The goal was reviewed as the puck barely passed the goal line but was accepted onto the scoreboard. Assisted by Dakota MacIntosh and Collin Eschricht, the home team was 1-0.

With Okotoks’ Kade Duell sent to the box for hooking, Blackfalds’ Brendan Ross scored a goal off a rebound from the low slot at 12:07. The power play goal was assisted by Ryan Shaw and Carter Cormier, doubling their lead 2-0.

In the second period, Okotoks’ Duell scored a goal on Bulldogs netminder Gabe Gratton at 9:52, cutting their deficit to 2-1.

But just 33 seconds later, Blackfalds’ Hunter Brown scored a sharp-angle goal, short side. With Otto Hanson and Tanner Willick getting the helpers, the Bulldogs pushed their team ahead 3-1.

In the third period, the Oilers’ Rylan Brown scored at 15:37, putting them behind the Bulldogs 3-2.

In an attempt to tie the game, Okotoks pulled out goaltender Kingo within the final minute of regulation, but to their demise as Blackfalds’ Ross scored his second goal of the game, unassisted, on the empty net all the way from the defensive zone. The Bulldogs were 4-2 against the Oilers.

With Okotoks’ netminder Kingo back in the net, he was off once again with 30 seconds left on the clock, allowing Jack Silverberg to score for the team at 19:40, closing the game with a 4-3 scoreboard behind the Bulldogs.

Power play

BFB: 1/3

OKO: 0/3

Three stars

1st: Gabe Gratton (BFB)

2nd: Brendan Ross (BFB) – 2G

3rd: Luke Dahlen (BFB) – 1G

Quinn said although they have had an “unusual” couple of weeks with uncertainty from the league change, once the team knew what they were doing, they were excited and ready to play. He says they were particularly energized to match-up against a top tier team like Okotoks and their elite, high-end players.

“You can never relax and, as per usual, coaches can’t relax in this game until the final score, but we came away with a win and we’re happy with that,” he said.

He said the team hasn’t been scoring over the past few games and targeted that lack during their practice this week.

“We really focused on creating more shots around the net, did a lot of one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three battles, and started to see some results. A couple of our goals, they were really just ‘throw it at the net and bang away’,” he said.

With a few changes to their schedule, the Bulldogs will now play against the Brooks Bandits on Sunday at the Centennial Regional Arena. Puck drop is at 2 p.m. with the broadcast live on Mixlr.

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