Barons fall in championship rematch 4-1

AUDIO: Hear head coach Gord Thibodeau's post-game comments:

A shorthanded breakaway goal by Mike Marianchuk (Innisfail, AB) was all the Fort McMurray Oil Barons could muster on Friday afternoon, as the defending AJHL champion Brooks Bandits came out on top of a 4-1 pre-season affair.

“I thought we played well,” Thibodeau said. “In some ways, I thought we played better than yesterday [a 5-3 win over Okotoks].”

“A couple of weak goals – the last one deflected in from behind the net almost,” Thibodeau recalled. “Overall we played well – didn't generate a lot offensively, but I'm pleased with how we played.”

Marianchuk's marker came on the first of 7 Brooks powerplays.

“You've got to take advantage of your special teams against them, and you can't put a skilled team like them on the powerplay that many times – eventually it'll burn you,” said Thibodeau.

Despite the frequent man advantage, the Bandits only tested goaltender Ethan Wood (Lloydminster, AB) with 23 shots; almost half their total in their game the previous night against Camrose. Marianchuk's goal was the only one of 18 MOB shots to be converted.

“With the offence that we lost last year, Mike's one of the guys that you expect to come in and add some numbers over what he did last year,” said Thibodeau. “You can tell goals will be at a premium for us this year, so we're really going to need some big years from those returning guys and he's one that we're depending on.”

“Overall I thought it was another solid effort, and it shows that every day we're getting better,” the coach concluded.

The Barons will conclude their exhibition schedule tomorrow at 4:30 PM against the Camrose Kodiaks.

“Hopefully somebody will have a great game tomorrow and change our minds, there's always that opportunity,” the coach remarked. “But I don't want them to feel the pressure that if they have a poor game, that's it.”

The MOB will likely be short by two veterans tomorrow as newly-acquired forward Jordan Clark and defenceman Sam House were taken to hospital after suffering leg and collarbone injuries, respectively.