GAME 1: Augustana Vikings 3 @ NAIT Ooks 4 (2OT)

March 9, 2018

Brandon Ralph was the overtime hero in the Ooks' opening game of the 2018 ACAC Playoffs. The NAIT winger capped off a thrilling night in double OT on Friday to give the Ooks a 1-0 series lead. 

Game Report

Game Story & Notes

Game Story:

Coming off a bye-week to kick off the 2018 ACAC Playoffs, the NAIT Ooks were back in action Friday night and their playoff opener did not disappoint!

Personally, this was probably the most fun I had behind the mic. The pace was quick, both teams were extremely physical and there was some bad blood brewing at the NAIT Arena.

As soon as the puck dropped for Game 1 of the ACAC Semi-Finals, the Augustana Vikings had one thing on their mind: wear down the Ooks physically. Led by 6'5" winger Cody Fiala, the Vikings did just that in the opening 20 minutes. 

Not only did the Ooks respond on the ice, but they also got it done on the scoreboard. Ten minutes into the first, Devon McAndrews' resilience paid off, potting home his first of the playoffs on his second rebound in front of the net. McAndrews, who thrives in physical games, was happy to contribute in the goal column. 

"It's pretty exciting. I'm not on the scoresheet a ton, it's always nice to get on there for sure, but [tonight's game] kind of played right into my style of game. I was able to stuff it home right in front," stated McAndrews.

In the second, Travis Mayan got the equalizer for his club, batting the puck out of mid-air behind Nathan Park. Park made a great stop before the rebound popped out in behind him. 1-1 hockey game. 

Just 22 seconds later, Francis Menard restored the Ooks lead on his first of the playoffs. Menard would score again, just three minutes later, with a nifty forehand, backhand move after finding open ice behind the Vikings defencemen. Menard slipped the puck between the legs of Skip and showed off his elusiveness with his second of the night. 

In the final minutes of the second, the Vikings were awarded a penalty shot after it was ruled that goaltender Nathan Park threw his stick on a breakaway. Cody Fiala made a nice move only to be absolutely robbed by the glove of Park. 

The Ooks finished the second period with a 3-1 lead. The Vikings seemed more interested in hurting the Ooks players than tying this game up. Until the third period. 

Early in the third, the Vikings were utilizing their tremendous speed on the wings to get pucks in deep and go in on the forecheck. The Ooks were on their heels and Augustana capitalized. 

About nine minutes into the final frame,  Mitch McMullin buried his second of the playoffs on the man advantage. The Vikings were buzzing and there was no doubt that Cody Fiala and his teammates were getting under the Ooks' skin with their solid play in the third.

Then, in the final minutes, the Ooks were holding a 3-2 lead that deteriorated with exactly one minute to go. Cody Fiala made an impressive move to the net, where a juicy rebound was pick up and put home by Evan Warmington. 3-3 after three periods of play.

The Vikings had momentum on their side heading into the OT period. While the first OT didn't see a winner, both teams exchanged some glorious chances in the opening 10 minutes. Both Nathan Park and Curtis Skip were called upon to make some game-saving stops in the first OT period. 

Just two minutes into the 2nd OT period, a hero emerged. Following a blunder by the Vikings goaltender, Brandon Ralph pounced on a loose puck to beat a scrambling Skip to secure the Ooks a Game 1 victory in the ACAC Semi-finals. McAndrews and Hauptman were credited with assists on the game winning goal. 

NAIT Ooks Lead Series 1-0.  

Team Notes:

  • Francis Menard is choosing the perfect time to get hot. Coming into this game, the Ooks forward had 9 Points (3G, 6A) in his final six regular season games. Menard was spectacular tonight, scoring two and engaging physically with the Vikings attack. Menard now has 11 PTS in 7 GP.
  • Goaltender Nathan Park needed to be his best tonight to get his first ACAC Playoff victory. The Ooks number one turned aside 33 of 26 shots on Friday night.

    Not to be outdone, Curtis Skip was also brilliant between the pipes. The Vikings netminder stopped 43 of 47 shots in the losing effort. His record drops to 2-0-1 in the playoffs.
  • Winger Devon McAndrews enjoyed a two-point effort tonight (1G, 1A), registering his first points since January 26th. Expect McAndrews to play a key role on Saturday (and beyond, if the Ooks advance to the ACAC Finals). 

Next up

Augustana Vikings (NAIT Ooks Lead 1-0)

The NAIT Ooks look to finish off the Augustana Vikings in Camrose on Saturday night. Following tonight's victory, the Ooks look to be the first team to clinch a spot in the ACAC Finals. 

  • Saturday: 6:00 p.m. @ UAA
    • Watch: ACAC TV
  • *Sunday: 7:00 p.m. @ NAIT
    • Watch & Listen: ACAC TV & NR92

           *If necessary