OKOTOKS, AB (August 29, 2013) — The Fort McMurray Oil Barons fell 5-2 to the Okotoks Oilers in the opener of a three-game preseason tournament in Okotoks on Thursday night, and head coach Gord Thibodeau wasn't mincing words afterwards.
“I wouldn't say there was any improvement, frankly,” he said. “We looked very lazy, not a lot of skating; the vets are on coast. It wasn't pretty to watch.”
The game was plainly in reach during the first period, despite an opening goal from the Oilers when John Edwardh tipped home a point shot from Drew Weich, beating starting netminder Tanner Jaillet.
The Barons responded soon after when Mitchell Vanderlaan set up Ryan Bloom on a 2-on-1 rush for a tying goal, soon followed up by a Hayden Dawes power-play goal for the MOB's only lead of the game.
It lasted only a few minutes, until Connor Hartley scored while falling to the ice in the slot to knot it at 2-2.
From there, it was all Oilers; first Stefan Danielson scored on a scramble in front of the net with just 7 seconds left in the opening period; then, new recruit Rhett Gardner doubled the lead with a shorthanded breakaway goal.
Shortly after, the Barons substituted backup goalie Jesse Gordichuk for Jaillet, who was perfect save for a Mitch Amatto power-play goal late in the third to make it a 5-2 final.
“We've scored three goals with this 'vaunted' offence in the last two games; obviously we're not clicking,” Thibodeau opined.
“Pretty plays don't score goals – you have to actually shoot the puck, and we're not doing that right now.”
Thibodeau says despite being down to 26 players on his roster, the opening day unit could differ greatly.
“We're certainly still looking to make changes,” he said. “I don't like the mix we have right now, so there'll be further changes between now and next week.”
The first change came merely hours after the game, when the team announced it had acquired 1993-born forward Brennan Saulnier from the Woodstock Slammers of the MHL.
Saulnier scored 52 points in the MHL last year in 51 games between Pictou County and Woodstock.
The MOB continues its pre-season schedule tomorrow at 1:45 PM in Okotoks, taking on the defending national champion Brooks Bandits.