Bulldogs back in win column with 4-3 victory over Oilers

Article Credit: Alessia Proietti, rdnewsNOW
Photo Credit: Tom Grimsdale, Ideal Images Red Deer

The Blackfalds Bulldogs returned to the win column on Saturday night with a 4-3 victory against the Okotoks Oilers at the Eagle Builders Centre.

In their first of back-to-back home games, the team broke their five-game losing streak which included a 4-3 loss to the Oilers on March 1.

The Bulldogs came hot out of the gate with Brendan Ross scoring a goal all the way from the blue line within the first 16 seconds of the first period on Oilers goaltender Christian Green. His eighth goal this season was assisted by Tanner Willick, opening the scoreboard 1-0.

Okotoks was outshooting Blackfalds 12-10 after 20 minutes of play.

Tensions rose in the middle frame when the Oilers’ Thomas Matte tied the game at 2:28 with a goal on Bulldogs netminder Wilson Maxfield.

Just 26 seconds later, Blackfalds’ Jayden Joly regained the lead, tapping in his fourth goal this season from the low slot. With Ross and Luke Dahlen getting the helpers, the home team were 2-1.

Shortly after, the Bulldogs ambushed the crease with Hunter Brown scoring off the second rebound. His third goal of the season at 4:17, assisted by Dakota MacIntosh and James Johnson, doubled their lead to 3-1.

But the Oilers’ Brett Wilson scored a goal in the final minute, putting them behind the Bulldogs 3-2.

Okotoks greatly outshot Blackfalds 20-7 in the second period.

With the Oilers’ Wilson getting a holding penalty early in the third period, the Bulldogs’ MacIntosh capitalized on the power play opportunity with a goal on his second rebound shot. Brown and Ross got the apples for his sixth goal this season, pushing their lead to 4-2 just four minutes in.

Okotoks were tailgating at 11:37 when Kade Turner scored a goal, putting them close behind at 4-3.

Pulling out their netminder Green for the final two minutes of regulation, it was not enough for the Oilers to even the game.

Okotoks once again greatly outshot Blackfalds 16-3 in the final period.

Shots on goal

OKO: 48

BFB: 20

Power play

OKO: 0/1

BFB: 1/3

Three stars

1st: Wilson Maxfield (BFB) – 45SV

2nd: Brendan Ross (BFB) – 1G, 2A

3rd: Rylan Brown (OKO) – 2A

Bulldogs Associate Coach Ryan Tobler said he was proud of the team’s the game after a good week of practice, especially coming off their 9-2 loss against the Brooks Bandits last Saturday.

“We liked parts of our game tonight but not all, so we’ll look to capitalize on a 60-minute effort tomorrow night, a little more consistency in the areas of our game. I thought [Maxfield] was great when we needed him to be for us, but we got to help him out a little more; there’s too many shots against for us,” he said.

Tonight’s game was Maxfield’s first return to the ice following a lower body injury; his last game was on March 1, also against the Oilers.

He says the team’s emphasis this game was on defense and limiting transitions between Oilers players.

“[The Oilers] are a creative team; they move the puck well, they’re fast, they’re darty, but we have confidence in our group too. Enough is enough; I think we had enough of those tight opportunities against and we like to see it go our way. I thought we were ready for that, and I thought the bench was great in the third period and we got to build on that. We’re looking to get something going here, get our swag and confidence back, so hopefully this is a step in the right direction,” he said.

For their next game, Tobler says the team needs to work on their communication, especially in the defensive zone.

“There’s a lack of communication when guys are standing around. It can be by voice, it can be hand checks, whatever; we have to be better helping each other out and, also, it can come from the bench as well. We’re going to look to make sure we’re a vocal group tomorrow and identify earlier and quicker so we can take away time and space again against a team that’s very dynamic in the [offensive] zone. You have to be on point, you have to be sharp, and you have to talk,” he said.

The win puts the Bulldogs in third place among Alberta teams in the BCHL with a record of 5-6-2-0 while the loss keeps the Oilers in last place at 4-9-1-0.

The Bulldogs will play against the Sherwood Park Crusaders tomorrow afternoon back on home ice. For St. Patrick’s Day, green beer will be served on tap at the Eagle Builders Centre, along with a performance by the Red Deer and District Pipe Band 30 minutes before the matinee. Puck drop is at 2 p.m. with the broadcast live on Mixlr.

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