FORT MCMURRAY, AB (November 3, 2012) — Despite losing an additional two skaters Friday night with injuries to forward Brett Printz and defenceman Mike Green, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons bounced back Saturday with a huge 4-0 win over the rival Spruce Grove Saints at the Casman Centre.
Goaltender Ethan Wood (St. Albert, AB) made 11 saves for his first career shutout, while the Barons as a team held the Saints to no shots on goal in the third period.
“We did a great job of battling, won a lot of loose puck battles, and we got rewarded for it,” said head coach Gord Thibodeau. “When you play that style of game, you're going to get rewarded.”
The Barons opened the scoring in the first period on the power-play when defenceman Taylor Graham's (Calgary, AB) blue line blast beat goaltender Nathan Park through a screen.
For the MOB, it was their first powerplay goal after 27 consecutive chances had been killed off.
“To tell you the truth, I was actually reaching for the seats behind us, guy had about four beers lined up, I was reaching for one of them, trying to celebrate,” joked Thibodeau. “It was a relief for everybody, none moreso than the players.”
Thibodeau also had high praise for Graham's overall game.
“He was outstanding tonight,” the coach raved. “He looked like Brock Maschmeyer. There were times where I looked and went 'oh my god, is that number four?'”
“If he plays like that every night, he's really going to help us.”
The MOB doubled the lead when Parker Evans-Campbell (High River, AB) fired a wrister from the left-wing hashmarks past Park off of a masterful drop pass from linemate Luc Lalor (St. Albert, AB).
The Barons would subsequently add two goals from Justin Fraser (Hussar, AB) on rebounds generated by linemates Harry Hendrix (Calgary, AB), and Kevin Lacroix (St. Albert, AB) who assisted on both markers.
“That's Justin – just go to the net, good things will happen,” Thibodeau said. “He's been real good for us this last month of so, and that whole line, when they go, we're obviously a lot better of a hockey team.”
Almost lost in the shuffle was Wood's first junior A shutout, based in large part on a stellar defensive effort in front of him. His teammates saved the game puck for him, and Thibodeau says his three-game winning streak is no coincidence.
“For Ethan, it's great,” said Thibodeau. “He's been a solid soldier for us. He understands his role, he's never complained about it, and he's just willing to do whatever we need him to do, and I thought that it was a team shutout tonight.”
“He made the saves when he needed to, but he had a lot of help from his defence, and that's a great sign going forward.”
The Barons even their record at 9-9-2 with a third of this AJHL season now complete.
There's not much time to rest after this 4 game in 5 night stretch, however, as the team is right back in action on Tuesday night at the Casman Centre to host the Bonnyville Pontiacs, the team that defeated them the prior Tuesday on the road.
Game time is 7:30 with pre-game coverage on Country 93.3 at 7:15.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Ethan Wood (first career shutout)
2. Justin Fraser (2 goals)
1. Taylor Graham (1 game-winning goal)