For anyone who had the AJHL North Division Final chalked up to be a bunch of one goal games has been gravely mistaken. For the third game in a row in the series, a complete blowout ensued and for the second time, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons were on the wrong side of the scoreboard as the Whitecourt Wolverines hammered the MOB 6-1 in Game 5.
With the win, the MOB are on the brink of elimination, trailing 3-2 in the series and will need a win Sunday night in Whitecourt to force a seventh game.
“There’s a number of different words that I want to use but I think the best word for me right now is just it’s extremely disappointing,” said MOB head coach Tom Keca on the loss.
A packed Casman Centre with 1,607 in attendance were looking for something to cheer for and the MOB gave them that early. Shane Fraser came across the Wolverine line and dropped a pass to Brandon Ralph. The captain tried to feed JC Thivierge on the right side who jumped into the play but the pass was too far in front of him. Thivierge took the pass off the side boards and blindly threw the puck on goal as Wolverines goaltender Pierce Diamond was slow to react, the shot beat him and the crowd erupted 2:56 in.
Whitecourt carried the play in the period outshooting the MOB 18-10 and were finally able to beat Eric Szudor on a late powerplay when Morgan Messenger snapped a shot from the side of the goal up under the roof for his 5th of the playoffs.
The teams went back and forth in the second period until a harmless looking pass from Mitch Lipon from the blueline deflected off an Oil Barons skate then off Eric Krienke and popped up and over Szudor’s glove to give the Wolverines their first lead.
The MOB looked to be heading into the third period down a goal but with the final seconds winding down the MOB coughed up the puck in their own end. Cody Laskosky spotted Evan Tschumi alone in the slot and he wired home the shot to put the Wolverines up 3-1 after two periods.
“They played desperate hockey, they’re in a visiting building, they didn’t allow the one goal to deter them from their game plan. They got pucks deep, they got to the net and they out worked us,” said Keca.
A frustrated Barons side was evident in the third as the penalties began to rack up allowing the Wolverines to put the game out of reach. Justin Young deflected a Colton Meekhof blast on an early powerplay to make it 4-1.
Just over a minute later Tschumi spotted Jaedon Leslie at the side of the goal and Leslie made no mistake burying his 2nd of the series. After the goal, Jack Hamly went after Tschumi, breaking his stick over his mid section. The result was a five minute major for slashing and a game misconduct handed to Hamly. The play originated when Tschumi got the knob of his stick up in the face of Hamly along the boards sending Hamly to the ice.
Young would add his second of the period on the five minute powerplay to round out the scoring and chase Eric Szudor from the MOB goal for a second time in the series. Young leads all playoff scorers with 12 goals in 15 games.
The Wolverines heavily outshot the Barons 37-22 and finished the night 3-7 on the powerplay. The Barons received just one powerplay in the game and went 0-1.
“The players should be excited to be playing against a great team in a great series that’s going back and forth and as a coach you’re worried that they’re not going to understand the opportunity that they have in front of them. It’s not every year you get an opportunity to play for a North Division Championship or potentially go to a league final,” said Keca about the team’s lack of effort on the night.
Game 6 of the series takes place at the Scott Safety Centre in Whitecourt Sunday at 7:30 p.m. If you can’t make it to Whitecourt, you can catch all the action on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope beginning with the pre-game show at 7:15 p.m.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines
Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 post game show.
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