It was more than just one victory for the Okotoks Raiders.
The Raiders scored the game’s final three goals to knock off the Victoria Shamrocks 13-10 on the second day of the 2019 Minto Cup Junior A Championship at Langley Events Centre.
The victory – which improved Okotoks to 1-1 while dropping Victoria to 0-2 with one round-robin game remaining – also marked the first time the Raiders defeated a non-Alberta team at the Minto Cup championship.
This is Okotoks’ eighth time competing for the Minto Cup.
“It is a big accomplishment for our program,” said Raiders coach Jesse Fehr. “To get our first program win against a team from outside of Alberta is an amazing accomplishment (but) I think our guys realize there is more to be done.”
After falling behind by a pair of goals just 34 seconds into the contest, the Raiders rebounded to lead 6-3 after one period and maintained that three-goal cushion through 40 minutes, up 8-5 at the second intermission.
Both teams had lost their opening game the night before, so a victory on the second day was crucial. And the Shamrocks came out for an inspired third period, knotting the score at nine and then again at 10-10 with just under 13 minutes to play.
But Okotoks captain Harrison Matsuoka corralled a wild ricochet off the end boards, fighting off a pair of Shamrocks for the ball before racing in all alone and scored what became the game-winning goal.
Less than three minutes later, Safo Arthur made it 12-10 before Matsuoka intercepted a pass in the defensive zone and scored into the empty net for his third of the game with 1:50 to play.
Jack Bruzell-Friesz made 33 saves on 42 shots before Jackson Brown entered the game in the third period and the score tied at nine. Brown finished with 16 saves on 17 shots.
The goaltender change was more to stem the momentum as Victoria had scored four goals in 4:06 to open the third period than it was an indictment on the play of Bruzell-Friesz.
“We have a ton of faith in both of our goalies. Instead of taking a timeout it allowed us to refocus and reset. We trust our backup goalie Jackson and we knew that our offence was going to do the job for us. It allowed our defence to refocus and continue to do what we do,” Fehr said.
A big key in the game was the Okotoks power-play which went 4-for-7.
“We were a little bit snake bit through the playoffs on our power play. They just kept believing and kept working and put a lot of good shots on net tonight,” the coach added.
Victoria coach Terry Dennett saw improvement in his squad from their opening-day 12-1 loss to Orangeville, but the team was unable to string together a solid 60-minute effort, playing well in just spurts.
“Okotoks works very, very hard every shift. They don’t quit and they kept going, kudos to them,” Dennett said.
Zach Mantei earned the Okotoks player of the game award following his three-goal, five-point performance. Levi Anderson had a pair of goals and two helpers while Myles Hamm scored a pair. Ethan Landymore (one goal, two assists) and Adam Wolf (one goal, one assist) rounded out the scoring while Marshall Bloomfield finished with three assists.
Austin Madronic had a monster game for the Shamrocks with three goals and eight points and earned the team’s player of the game. Jackson Boyd added two goals while Ben Preston and Teioshontathe McComber each had a goal and an assist. Brayden McQuarrie, Patrick Dodds and Casey Wilson each scored once for Victoria.
Cameron Dunkerley finished with 37 saves on 49 shots.
From the Shamrocks standpoint, they are now forced to sit and watch as a Coquitlam victory over Orangeville in Saturday’s second game would mean the Victoria-Coquitlam game on Sunday would be meaningless as Victoria would be unable to advance even if they won.
“(All we can do is) just hope the lacrosse Gods are there for us,” Dennett said