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Okotoks Oilers Open 2017-18 AJHL Season with 10 Straight Wins

By Neil Hilts on October 12, 2017

Rookie Ben Howard has been a huge reason why the Okotoks Oilers have started the season undefeated in 10 straight. The 17-year-old has filled in for injured starter Riley Morris and is 9-0 in his first AJHL season. (Photo courtesy of Chad Goddard, chadgoddard.ca)

The Okotoks Oilers are rolling this year, off to the best start in franchise history with 10 wins in a row.

The team is undefeated and leading the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), plus the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) has taken notice, putting the Oilers atop the national top-20 rankings for the first time ever.

Through the ten games, Okotoks is first in goals averaging five per game, and tied for first with Fort McMurray in goals against average at 2.1. They’ve had some closer games this seasons with three being decided by just one goal, so they’ve definitely been fortunate in some circumstances.

However, they have also won five of their games by at least three goals and have an overall goal differential of +29. It’s safe to say they are a real contender.

Seven Oilers are averaging a point per game or better, led by veteran Kyle Gordon with 14 points who is one goal shy from his total goal tally for his rookie season last year. Team captain Carter Huber looks well on his way to breakout year in his final campaign in the AJHL, sitting at 1.2 points per game, above his already impressive 16-17 season average of 0.8.

Rookies are also having a huge impact for the team, with 16-year-olds Quinn Olson and Dylan Holloway sitting fourth and sixth, respectively, in team scoring. Both have four goals and are in the top three in the league for scoring by players under 17.

The most surprising part of this run is the fact Okotoks has only had their veteran goalie Riley Morris play in one game. Morris has won more than 20 games in each of the past two seasons, highlighted by 29 last year. However, an injury has limited him to just one this season.

Rookie Ben Howard has stepped into the crease and turned in strong results. He’s 9-0 with a 2.11 GAA, .917 save percentage and one shutout.

Last year, Howard played for the Midget AAA Calgary Flames and now the 17-year-old is anchoring a strong last line of defence in Morris’ absence. With full health across the board, the Oilers will have two top goalies to choose between – a good problem to have.

On the blueline, Kylor Wall is proving to be a key offseason acquisition. He came over from the Calgary Mustangs, and after scoring 31 points last year, Wall already has five goals and six assists. Carson Beers, in his fourth season with the team, hasn’t quite found the offensive touch he had last year, but he’s a top pairing guy.

Add potential NHL Draft choice Jacob Bernard-Docker to the mix with veterans Reece Soukoroff and Ryan Roberts, plus rookies Hoon Kim and Nick Blankenburg, and the blueline may just be one of the best in the league.

The Okotoks franchise began play in 2005 and their best opening ten games to a season was in 2008-09 when they won eight of their first 10. Hot starts have been common in Okotoks the past two years as the team has gone 7-3, but nothing close to 10-0. Their previous best was five straight to start a year.

The Spruce Grove Saints were the last team to win 10 consecutive and that was in 2015-16. They lost their 11th game, so Okotoks will look to surpass that start when they play their next game on Friday, Oct. 13 at home against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

Fort Mac has also had a great start as it is 7-1-1 and first in the North Division, but the team is overshadowed by Okotoks at the moment. It’ll be a big clash to early bragging rights as the league’s top team.

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By Neil Hilts| October 12, 2017
Categories:  Junior
Keywords:  Okotoks Oilers

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