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Overtime win Sunday gives Aces their first win of the season

Although it was a gloomy and dark day outside on Sunday, it was a different story inside the Athabasca Regional Multiplex after a thrilling 5-4 overtime win for the Athabasca Aces over the Slave Lake Winterhawks.
Bobby Roy/AA Athabasca Ace Andy Skoreyko skates past Chad Paulson of the Slave Lake Winterhawks in the second period of Sunday’s game
Bobby Roy/AA Athabasca Ace Andy Skoreyko skates past Chad Paulson of the Slave Lake Winterhawks in the second period of Sunday’s game

Although it was a gloomy and dark day outside on Sunday, it was a different story inside the Athabasca Regional Multiplex after a thrilling 5-4 overtime win for the Athabasca Aces over the Slave Lake Winterhawks.

The Aces and their fans all breathed a sigh of relief as the puck hit the twine in overtime; after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period, the win was much-needed.

“Some of the bounces have been going against us in our first two games, so it was really good to get this one,” said Tony Kiselyk, head coach of the Aces.

Sunday’s victory over the Winterhawks is the first win of the season for the Aces and a little bit of revenge after the Winterhawks blew out the Aces in their home opener, 6-1.

Despite blowing a two-goal lead in the third period, Aces’ forward Andy Skoreyko was able to send the fans and team home happy by scoring the overtime winner at the 33-second mark.

“It’s nice to finally get on the board,” explained Kiselyk.

Sunday’s contest featured two teams that clearly don’t like each other, which made for a great back-and-forth affair.

“It was a good, gritty game,” said Kiselyk.

The Aces were without three of their regular forwards, but were able to overcome their bench problems to grind out their first two points of the year.

“The boys sucked it up and got it done,” exclaimed Kiselyk.

Although Athabasca was missing three of their forwards, a familiar face was back on the ice wearing the home green-and-white jersey.

Forward Brett Topola returned to the Aces after a short stint with the Battle Creek Revolution of the All-American Hockey League (AAHL), and it was evident with his play on Sunday afternoon that the Aces are happy to have him back.

“It’s really nice to have Brett back. He’s one of those ‘any situation’ kind of players,” said Kiselyk.

The first period saw the Aces and Winterhawks trade powerplay chances on several occasions, but neither team was able to capitalize, leaving the scoreboard with zeros once the buzzer went to signify the end of the first.

The second period was much different.

Less than a minute into the period, while on the powerplay, the Aces gave up the puck in their own end and it cost them dearly. But the Ace who scored the eventual overtime winner quickly put the Aces back into a tie with the Winterhawks less than a minute later.

Tied at one, Aces’ goaltender Jeff Creaser stood on his head midway through the period to keep the game knotted, and he was rewarded thanks to a powerplay marker by Sean Kiselyk late in the period to give the Aces a 2-1 lead.

The Aces continued to put pressure on the Winterhawks defense and, once again, it paid big dividends for the team.

Late in the period, while on another powerplay, Athabasca potted their third goal of the game as Sean Kiselyk scored his second of the game with just 36 seconds left in the frame to put the Aces up 3-1 heading into the second intermission.

Heading into the third period, the Aces were ahead comfortably, but that changed very quickly as Slave Lake cut the lead down to one just minutes into the period.

After several chances squandered by Slave Lake, the Winterhawks were handed back-to-back penalties midway through the period.

Topola slammed a one-timer past Winterhawks goaltender Sheldon Ghostkeeper to give the Aces back their two-goal lead.

Seconds after the Aces scored their fourth goal of the game, the Winterhawks found themselves in more penalty trouble.

With another five-on-three advantage, it looked as though the Aces went up by three with Topola’s second of the game, but after the refs initially called his goal a good one, they reversed the call to disallow it.

That seemed to spark the Winterhawks.

Slave Lake made it 4-3 at the 7:18 mark in the third period and tied the game up with less than 10 minutes left.

The teams continued to trade chances, but the game needed overtime to decide a winner.

With the win, the Aces snap a two-game losing streak to start the season.

Athabasca played the defending North Central Hockey League (NCHL) champion Onoway Ice Dogs on Friday night and saw exactly why they are the champs.

They were defeated 13-4 by Onoway.

“They’re just a really good team. We came out flat in the second period and we weren’t ready to play,” explained Kiselyk.

The Aces were outscored 7-1 in the frame.

Athabasca will head back to Onoway this Friday night and won’t play at home again until Nov.12 when they host those same Ice Dogs.

Game time is 8:45 p.m.