For the second time this season the Fort McMurray Oil Barons survived a late game scare to hang on and beat the first place Okotoks Oilers.
Riding a seven game win streak, the Oilers carried the pace of play and swarmed the MOB goal all night but MOB goalie Eric Szudor stood his ground making 40 saves in a 3-2 Oil Barons win.
The win extended the Barons (21-4-2) win streak to three games and gave the Oilers (23-3-1) just their third regulation loss of the year, two of which have come against the Barons.
The win didn’t come easy for the MOB as the Oilers used their speed and physicality to create turnovers and odd man rushes including several late in the third period with the Oil Barons up a goal.
The MOB received a powerplay with just over five minutes left in the period but it was the Oilers generating the scoring chances with Carter Huber getting a breakaway and seconds later a two-on-one that were both denied by huge saves from Szudor.
“I should be thrilled, we beat Okotoks 3-2, they’re a great team, I thought they took it to us but we found a way to win and rather then sit up here and be ecstatic about the win I’m frustrated at the last five minutes of the way we played and that’s the unfortunate thing,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 post-game show. “I really feel bad but I just can’t shake the way that I feel.”
“I think that we’re extremely lucky to have Eric Szudor because he has bailed out our arses too many times this year.”
The Oilers opened the scoring 6:26 into the first period off the rush. Huber snapped a shot from the top of the left face-off circle that beat Szudor under the blocker arm for his 8th goal of the year and just his 2nd in the last 17 games.
The MOB would tie things up when Reed Morison was sprung on a two-on-one inside the Oilers zone off a quick pass from Nicholas Leeseberg. Morison waited before ripping a shot off the crossbar and in past Riley Morris for his 12th goal of the year.
The first period would end after the Morison goal due to ice conditions as the teams headed to the dressing room with 2:26 left on the clock.
When the teams came back out, the MOB seemed to have an extra step. Taking the play to the Oilers and eventually taking a 2-1 lead off a brutal turnover from Morris. The adventurous goaltender tried a cross ice pass deep in his own zone while on a powerplay that was picked off by Jack Hamly who made no mistake burying the puck into a gapping cage.
The Barons then found themselves in a bit of penalty trouble late in the period, taking three straight penalties and the Oilers made them pay when Kyle Gordon knocked in a loose puck in front to tie the game 2-2.
“This is a playoff type game. It’s 2-2, you’re playing against a nationally ranked team, they’re really good, this is going to tell us where we are,” said Keca of what the message to his team was in the second intermission.
It would be the Oilers who dominated the third period. Outshooting the Barons 16-6 in the frame and 42-22 in the game. Despite the lofty shot advantage, Merritt Oszytko broke the 2-2 tie off a face-off win from Shane Fraser. Oszytko fired a quick shot that beat Morris for his 14th goal of the year to restore the MOB’s one goal lead.
In the final minute, the Barons had several chances to clear the puck out of their zone but weren’t able to as the Oilers kept pressing. The final play was a centering pass that got deflected away to safety by the star of the game…Mr. Eric Szudor.
The Oil Barons continue their homestand Friday night as they welcome the Olds Grizzlys to the Casman Centre for the annual Teddy Bear Toss in support of Santas Anonymous.
Bring a teddy bear to the rink and when the Oil Barons score their first goal, throw the bear onto the ice. All of the bears will be donated to children this holiday season.
“We tell our players to be thankful for what you have and then we try to spread as much joy as we can throughout the community because this is such a supportive and loving community for us and it’s an opportunity for us to give back,” said Keca. “I plead with people if you only come to one game please come (to this one), bring a teddy bear or buy one at the front, I know that Father Mercredi does a great job in getting hampers out to as many people.”
Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photo by: Dan Lines, Fort McMurray Oil Barons
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