SHERWOOD PARK, AB (November 16, 2013) — Ryan Bloom (Calgary, AB) scored twice in a three-goal second period, but the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (21-2-2) allowed three consecutive goals in the third period on Saturday night en route to a 5-3 road loss to the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
“We got outhit, we got outmuscled, we got outcompeted,” said Barons head coach and general manager Gord Thibodeau. “We were fortunate to be up 3-2 after two periods, and just didn't really play a very strong game.”
“There were some 50/50 battles where we just gave up, rather than fight through, and that's frustrating. You're going to lose games when you try to finesse teams that are playing physical. You've got to give it back physically, and we didn't do that.”
An even opening twenty minutes saw a 12-11 shot advantage for the MOB, but no scoring by either team until a feriocusly offensive second frame ensued.
With the Barons getting a power-play just 17 seconds into the period, it took Bloom only 32 seconds to set up a perfect wrist shot from the top of the right wing faceoff circle, beating Crusader goalie Tommy Nixon over the glove hand for a 1-0 MOB lead.
The lead would be fairly short lived, however, as just under three minutes later, defenceman Cole Dunphy (Fort Saskatchewan, AB) fanned on a pass at his own goal line. The puck slid slowly in front to Crusader forward Daniel Wray, whose quick wrist shot beat Tanner Jaillet (Red Deer, AB) to knot the score at one.
About four minutes later, the Crusaders took their first lead when Ryan Kruper converted a power-play rebound shot to make it 2-1.
But the Barons would storm back courtesy of two goals scored in a span of just 40 seconds. First, at 8:08, Kevin Miller (Stony Plain, AB) fed a perfect pass across on a two-on-one rush to captain Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB), who jammed the puck past Nixon to make it 2-2.
At 8:48, Bloom got his second when rookie Danton Ayotte (Wetaskiwin, AB) chased down a puck behind the Crusader net and centred it to the league-leading scorer, who wristed it past Nixon from the right hashmarks to make the score 3-2 heading into the second intermission.
“I thought we jumped up well from that,” said Thibodeau. “Bottom line is, you have to do more than play 40 seconds. We had some opportunities to bury pucks; I mean, [Brennan] Saulnier could've had four in the first period. We were very, very poor, I thought, in our finish.”
But the Barons faded in the third, despite an even 9-9 shot margin. Kruper scored his second goal of the game just 47 seconds in, deflecting a Marshall Donald power play point shot. At 14:23, Sean MacTavish was found alone in front of the net on a rebound that followed a stellar save by Jaillet, jamming the puck in for the eventual winning goal. Then, with just 2:30 left in the third, a nearly-identical goal came for Cameron Brezinski, who was unmarked at the right side of the McMurray net to deposit a rebound off of another sprawling save by Jaillet to make it 5-3.
“You've got to tie guys up around the net. You've got to make guys pay, and we didn't do that,” said Thibodeau. “We had some guys that didn't want to get physically involved. Unless you've got a real long stick, it's tough to play the game when you're eight feet from the battle and you don't want to get in there.”
The Barons' league-leading power play went just 1 for 7 while their league-leading penalty kill uncharacteristically allowed 2 man advantage goals on 5 Crusader opportunities.
The MOB returns home for the remainder of November, starting this coming Friday and Saturday with a back-to-back series against the Whitecourt Wolverines.
“With skilled hockey teams, you've got to take a piece of them physically,” said Thibodeau of the upcoming series. “You have to take away their time and space, and you have to get in their grill, and we didn't do that tonight, but it's something we'll work on this week.”
“It's going to be a tough week to be an Oil Baron,” he predicted.
Puck drop for both games is at 8:00 PM with pre-game coverage starting at 7:45 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
1. Ryan Kruper (2 goals, 1 assist)
2. Ryan Bloom (2 goals)
3. Sean MacTavish (1 game-winning goal)