Wolverines Earn Split With Defending Champions

Whitecourt, AB –  The Whitecourt Wolverines opened their third season in the AJHL on home ice Friday night in the first half of a home and home set with the reigning AJHL Gas Drive Cup champions, the Spruce Grove Saints.

After a stagnant start to the opening frame, Isaac Farrah would open the scoring for the Spruce Grove Saints late in the first period with a seeing-eye point shot that beat a screened Simon Lemieux. 

The Wolverines would draw even with under 8 minutes left in the middle period after a big hit by second year defensemen Kellan Cornelis in the neutral zone lead to a two-on-one break the other way where rookie forward Joseph Nardi would setup Alec-Jon Banville for his first AJHL goal.

The tie would be short lived however as Riley Simpson would strike 2 minutes and 25 seconds later on the powerplay giving the Saints a 2-1 lead heading to the third period.  Shots on goal heavily favored the Saints 20-7.

The Wolverines came out inspired in the third period applying non-stop pressure.  Morgan Messenger found the back of the net at the 8:22 mark of the final period to once again draw the game level, but just like in the second period the Saints would answer a short time later when Connor Lukan would fire a shot off the post and in to once again put the Saints ahead by a goal. 

The Wolverines, undeterred, continued to battle and were rewarded with a late game-tying goal from rookie Gordie Ballhorn.  No overtime would be needed in this one as just 21 seconds after Ballhorn’s goal, John Mullally would shovel a backhand on goal that handcuffed Saints goalie Tanner McCorriston and trickle in behind him and into the net.   The goal was given to Mullally.   “I’m pretty sure Kocur scored it, I just tried to shovel it to the net with one hand and Kocur banged in the rebound, but I guess they gave it to me” said Mullally post game.  4-3 Wolverines the final.

The Wolverines outshot the Saints 14-5 in the third period.  Simon Lemieux picked up the win for the Wolverines stopping 22 of 25 shots, while Tanner McCorriston took the loss for the Saints allowing 4 goals on 21 shots.  The Wolverines went 0 for 4 on the man advantage, while the Saints went 1 for 4.

Attendance: 1065

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Less than 24 hours after the Wolverines (1-0-0) win on Friday evening they were back in action in Spruce Grove for the second half of the home and home with the Saints (0-1-0).

The Wolverines got on the board first with a powerplay marker just before the midway point of the first period from Joel Kocur. 

The Saints would tie the game less than 4 minutes into the middle frame on a goal from Jarid Hauptman, his first of four points on the night.  The Saints would then grab the lead on a powerplay goal from Cole Nicholson.  John Mullally tied the game with 6 minutes and 20 seconds to go in the period, his first of three goals in the game.  The Saints added a pair of goals in the late stages of the period to take a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.

The Saint’s Austin Hunter’s third period goal, sandwiched between Mullally’s second and third goals of the game, would prove to be the game winner.  5-4 Saints the final. 

Simon Lemieux took the loss for the Wolverines stopping 28 of 33 shots, while Saints rookie goalie Patrick Gora made 21 saves to earn his first career AJHL win.  The Saints powerplay clicked on 2 of 3 chances, while the Wolverines went 1 for 5 on man advantage.

Prior to the game the Saints unveiled their 2013/2014 AJHL Gas Drive Cup championship banner and had Edmonton Oiler goaltender and former Spruce Grove Saint, Ben Scrivens, drop the puck on ceremonial faceoff before the game.

Attendance: 801

Andrew Peard