The Fort McMurray Oil Barons (27-6-3) found themselves down early against the Bonnyville Pontiacs (13-19-7) but roared back to score six unanswered goals en route to a 6-2 win Friday night.
The MOB were led by Reed Morison who scored his second hat-trick of the season and Will Conley who added a pair of goals in the win. The MOB also received a huge boost on the blueline from defenceman Curtis Roach who returned after missing the past 20 games with an injury. The 20 year old hadn’t played since October 27th and made an immediate impact, picking up three assists in his return to the lineup.
“It’s just good to have him in the dressing room, he’s a likable kid, he’s somebody that gets that instant respect from his teammates and that’s a huge void and you don’t know how much you miss somebody until you get him back,” said Keca of having Roach back in the lineup and the impact he had on the team.
It wasn’t a pretty start for the MOB as 52 seconds into the game, Brendan Morrow whacked in a loose puck in front to open the scoring for the Pontiacs. Just over three minutes later, the Pontiacs doubled their lead while on a powerplay when Kirby Proctor’s point shot was deflected by Lucas Thorne and trickled through the arm of Chris Curr.
“It seemed like we were still on the bus for about the first six minutes,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca. “The game of hockey is about 90% mental and 10% physical and we weren’t mentally ready to start.”
The Barons picked up the pace just past the mid-way point of the first period when Morison created an offensive zone turnover and got the puck to Curtis Roach. The defenceman’s shot hit a leg and went right to Nicholas Leeseberg who found Morison in front as he beat Sandro Silvestre.
The Barons would tie the game 2-2 with 37 seconds left in the period after another aggressive forecheck created a turnover. Shane Fraser got the puck to Merritt Oszytko behind the Pontiacs goal. Oszytko spotted Will Conley out front who made no mistake burying his 26th goal of the year.
The Oil Barons entered the game leading the league in shorthanded goals with nine after scoring two in their previous game. They would add another off a great play from Morison late in the second period. Morison chased down Zach Aston into the Pontiacs zone and with a quick stick lift, stripped the puck and fired a shot over the shoulder of Silvestre to give the MOB their first lead of the game.
“Morison has an opportunity to get there and his hands are about as soft as my mid-section which is real soft,” said Keca with a laugh. “He gets that goal and I thought that was a huge turning point.”
An early powerplay to start the third period would see the MOB take a 4-2 lead when JC Thivierge was allowed to walk out in front of the Pontiacs goal and slid the puck short side for his 7th goal of the year.
The MOB kept coming at the Pontiacs in the third, outshooting them 18-9 in the frame and 32-30 overall. Conley buried his second of the game at the 8:48 mark off a nice feed from Roach.
Roach would be instrumental in the Barons sixth goal which would be Morison’s hat-trick. Roach got the puck in front and the big winger used his soft hands to find the loose puck and lift it into the top shelf. The goal was the 19 year olds 17th of the season.
The MOB will continue their three game road trip Saturday in Lloydminster before heading to Sherwood Park Sunday afternoon.
MOB 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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