Missing eight regulars from your lineup is not typically a recipe for success.
The short-staffed Okotoks Oilers (15-9-1-1) bucked that preconceived notion not once, but twice in scoring back-to-back overtime victories for a home-and-home sweep over the Blackfalds Bulldogs with Sam Huck scoring in the extra-session in both contests.
“It’s been hard, but as you can see, we can handle it,” Huck said. “We’re just trying to stick as a team and do simple things, not try to do too much and just play your role.
“Those are huge wins. Not just in the standings, but for us too. We know we can play these kind of games and beat these kind of teams.
“It helps us and motivates us to get better every day.”
Huck scored just 33 seconds into overtime at home ice on Saturday, finishing off the 5-4 victory on an odd-man rush.
“I looked at my left and saw Brett Huxley over there and I know he’s going to the net hard which takes the goalie’s attention from me,” Huck said. “I just tried to get a low shot and see what happens there, it went five-hole, which I was happy with, but I was looking for a rebound there too.”
Jagger Tapper scored the equalizer late in regulation with Huxley tallying a highlight reel shorthanded marker, Sam Hall netting his third of the season and affiliate player Brandon de Haas, the captain of the Okotoks Bow Mark Oilers, opening the scoring with his first in the AJHL.
Alexander Scheiwiller made 28 saves for this seventh win.
“Those four points are huge, especially going into overtime and getting the extra point in both of them,” said Huxley. “Yes, we were shorthanded, but the younger guys in the lineup really stepped up and rose to the occasion as well as the affiliates.
“They all did a really good job and contributed to the success.”
The Oilers were down to 11 forwards for both wins with a long list unable to take part, a group that includes captain Dean Spak, speedy centre Jackson Rowland and veteran blueliner Logan Magowan.
“A lot of it is shift management on the ice, maybe take some shorter shifts and set other guys up positively,” Huxley said. “We’re hoping to get some more guys back soon, but right now we’re just managing and taking care of our bodies.”
On Friday in Blackfalds, Huck had two goals and an assist, the latter again early in overtime, with Tapper and Ethan O’Halloran also lighting the lamp in the 4-3 triumph.
Earlier in the week, Okotoks’ overtime fortune was reversed in a 3-2 defeat to the Calgary Canucks at Centennial Arenas.
“We’ve got some practice in these last three games,” Huxley said. “We’ve just got to match their speed and puck possession is huge in the 3-on-3, you can’t rush any plays, take our time and calm the game down a bit.”
This week, Okotoks concludes its three games in four days stretch on Monday night in Calgary in a rematch with the Canucks. On the weekend, the Oilers are home the Olds Grizzlys and Sherwood Park Crusaders on Nov. 24 and 25.
Okotoks, Calgary and the Bonnyville Pontiacs sits tied for fourth in the standings with 32 points, five back of the Bulldogs.
For more information, go to okotoksoilers.ca.