By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – You could not have asked for a closer hockey game Wednesday night. Tied 1-1 through three periods and matched 28-28 in shots until the final three minutes of overtime, the Morinville Jets and Edmonton Royals were not prepared to give up any ground in the opening game of the best-of-seven semi-final league series.
But there could only be one victor in the Mar. 7 contest and that victor was the Morinville Jets after Dalen Paul picked up an unassisted goal with 3:23 left in the 10-minute overtime period.
The Jets started Wednesday night’s contest playing a lot of defence. The club did not get their first scoring opportunity for eight minutes. By period’s end the Jets were trailing 12-5 in scoring opportunities but tied 1-1 in goals. The Royals were first to light the board after putting one past Jets backstop Mike Saunders who could not bounce back into position fast enough to block the shot. Keagan Arcand answered back for the Jets at 6:48 with a shorthanded goal.
The two clubs remained deadlocked for the remaining 40 minutes, although the Jets closed the gap on scoring opportunities throughout the remaining two frames.
If Wednesday night’s game is any indication, this series will not be the cake walk the Jets had through their series with the Edmonton Mustangs. Although the Jets did well against the Royals in the regular season, the Royals just toppled the Sherwood Park Knights in round two, a club that was the top team in the CJHL at the end of the regular season.
The Jets head down the road Friday night for game two of the semi-finals at the Bill Hunter arena. They return home to play game three Sunday night at 6:45 p.m.