Whitecourt, AB – The Whitecourt Wolverines (0-0-1) home opener celebration ended with disappointment on Friday night as the team fell 3-2 to the Spruce Grove Saints (1-0-0) in overtime.
The night began long before the drop of the puck as the team hosted a pregame tailgate party in the in the parking lot of the Scott Safety Centre. Following the party outside, fans moved inside and were treated to a video tribute of last year’s historic run the AJHL league final, a light show player introduction and of course, the unveiling of the 2016/2017 North Division Championship banner.
The tailgate party also raised money for Whitecourt Minor Hockey’s R&R Memorial Scholarship Fund which helps keep kids in hockey by covering hockey fees for those that are in need of assistance. A total of $1060.00 was donated.
When the puck finally dropped the Wolverines looked to get the early jump on the Spruce Grove Saints applying early pressure. Eventually that pressure lead to some undisciplined play on the part of the Saints, sending themselves two-men short midway through the opening frame. On the man-advantage the Wolverines would strike as Jaedon Leslie laid the puck on a tee for Noah Tooke who fired a wrist shot top shelf past Saints starting netminder Nolan Kent.
The teams would trade chances back and forth through what would be a scrambley first period and in the final minute the Saints would get on the board as Austin Parmiter found the back of the net following a Wolverine defensive zone turnover.
The Saints controlled a lot of the action in the second period riding the momentum from their late period marker but neither team would find the back of the net sending the game even at 1-1 into the third period.
The Saints began the final stanza with a man-advantage and used it to take their first lead of the game on a goal from Josh Harris who buried a rebound off a Jordan Biro shot less than a minute into the period. The lead was short lived however, Easton Haygarth tied the game for the Wolverines with his first career AJHL goal after jamming home a puck following up on his rebound. Despite several chances in the latter half of the period for the Wolverines to take the lead the game ended up in overtime tied 2-2 thanks in large part to the tremendous goaltending of Kent.
The Wolverines best chance to end the game in overtime came on a Liam Motley breakaway but he was thwarted by a poke check from Kent and a short time later the Saints capitalized on an odd-man rush of their own when Logan Ganie had a pass pinball off a Wolverine defenceman and into the back of the net securing the victory for the Saints.
The two teams will do battle once again tomorrow night at the Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove, puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., you catch all the action on XM 105.3 FM starting at 6:45 p.m.
Whitecourt Wolverines head coach Gord Thibodeau analyzes tonight’s setback:
Notes: Noah Tooke scored the Wolverines first goal of the season making it three straight years the team’s first goal came from a blueliner (Nick Quillan 2016, Jordan Davies 2015)…Easton Haygarth’s first career AJHL goal was assisted by twin brother Chase marking his first career AJHL assist and point….The Wolverines remained undefeated in regulation time in home openers (3-0-3)…Defenceman Matthew Monk was a late scratch due to injury, local product Spencer Augot stepped into the lineup in his place…the Spruce Grove Saints players all have shaved their heads in support of team captain Josh Harris’s little sister Ashley who is currently battling leukemia and had just undergone her second bone marrow transplant on Wednesday.
WCT Goal – 10:41 – Noah Tooke(1) from Jaedon Leslie and Tyr Thompson (PP)
SG Goal – 19:11 – Austin Parmiter(1) from Martin Rudolf (EV)
SG Goal – 0:50 – Josh Harris(1) from Jordan Biro and Chris Van Os-Shaw (PP)
WCT Goal – 4:06 – Easton Haygarth(1) from Chase Haygarth and Brayden Labant (EV)
SG Goal – 3:19 – Logan Ganie(1) from TJ Lloyd (EV)
Shots – WCT 40 (12-13-12-3) SG 31 (10-10-8-3)
Power plays – WCT 1/4 SG 1/2
WCT – Xavier Potvin 28sv/31sh (0-0-1)
SG – Nolan Kent 38sv/40sh (1-0-0)
Three Star Selection:
1. SG-Nolan Kent (38 saves, win)
2. WCT-Noah Tooke (1 goal)
3. SG-Logan Ganie (GWG)
Hardest Working Wolverine: Easton Haygarth (1 goal).
Recaps presented by: