Barons sneak by Cru 4-3 in a shootout; streak runs to 5 (VIDEO & AUDIO)

FORT MCMURRAY, AB (January 30, 2013) — Tanner Jaillet (Red Deer, AB) made 37 saves, and Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB) had the shootout winner, as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons edged the Sherwood Park Crusaders 4-3 in extra time on Wednesday night at the Casman Centre.

“We were, frankly, not very good tonight,” said a brutally honest head coach Gord Thibodeau. “Very, very poor, I thought in our d-zone; we were very fortunate that we had one player playing defence – that was Tanner.”

“Let's face it – if he's not in this game, we don't win this game.”

The see-saw battle had the Barons blowing a two-goal lead, then coming back from a one-goal deficit in the third to tie and force extra time.

MOB captain Mike Marianchuk (Innisfail, AB) opened the scoring on a two-on-one rush 11:46 into the first period, accepting a pass from linemate Justin Fraser (Hussar, AB), streaking down the slot and firing a shot past goalie Matt Tomkins for a 1-0 lead.

The Crusaders got into penalty trouble late in the frame and ended up allowing a 5-on-3 that the Barons converted on with 7 seconds left in the period. Off of a goal-mouth scramble, Adam Durkee (Lafayette, CO) corralled a loose puck just outside the crease and fired it through a crowd and into the back of the net to double the MOB lead.

But some casual defensive zone play thereafter allowed Danny Smith of the Crusaders to find Ryan Luiten alone at the side of the net, for a spinning backhand goal with just seven-tenths of a second left in the period.

MOB forward Luc Lalor (St. Albert, AB) was knocked out of the game after the carryover Barons power-play expired early in the first, when he was hit hard by Blair Mulder after he exited the penalty box; Justin Fraser dropped his gloves and landed a series of punches on Mulder, and was penalized for instigating the fight.

The Cru would carry their late first period momentum into the middle frame, where they dominated the Barons and outshot them 15-8, scoring two goals to take the lead. The first came at 9:46 when Adam Moghrabi poke-checked a puck past Jaillet, and the second at 15:11 when Luiten intercepted a Sam House (Calgary, AB) pass at the MOB blue line, skated in on a breakaway, and beat Jaillet with a forehand wrister to make it 3-2 Sherwood Park.

Despite the three goals allowed, Jaillet's play overshadowed all else on the night, as he made a variety of point-blank and one-timer saves, including a diving stop on Stefan Bazar at the side of the MOB net, deflecting a puck with an outstretched glove over the end glass, a one-time robbery of Darcy Zaharichuk on a cross-crease pass on a 2-on-0 breakaway, and a quick stop on a Dillon Massie one-timer from the top of the crease after a perfect drop-back pass from Smith.

“That's one of the best goaltending performances we've had in this building for a few years,” said Thibodeau. “He was just spot-on – the saves he made weren't just difficult, they were unbelievable, some of them.”

In the third, it would be an inauspicious play resulting in the tying goal, as the aforementioned House simply fired a puck towards the net from the right wing corner, and it somehow snuck past the NHL-drafted Tomkins for House's second goal as a Baron and perfect redemption from his earlier turnover.

Overtime solved nothing, and in the shootout only Houcher was able to score with what has become his patented forehand fake followed by a quick backhand shot that this time rang off the crossbar and in to give the MOB the win.

Jaillet stopped all three shots for the MOB, who are now 5-0 in shootouts with no goals allowed in any of them.

“I guess our motto is 'get to the shootout',” joked Thibodeau, “because our goaltenders don't allow any goals.”

The Barons hit the road this weekend for their first trip of the season to Grande Prairie Friday night, before capping it off Saturday night in Spruce Grove against the first-place Saints.

“I think they [the players] are pretty aware that we weren't pleased with the effort,” said Thibodeau. “It's inexcusable frankly, at this point, when you've got ten games, you're trying to prep for playoffs, and you give up 19 scoring chances – that just can't happen.”

“You're playing some teams that are all fighting for position right now, and we can't afford to give up points at this stage.”

Game time Friday is 7:30 with pre-game coverage on Country 93.3 starting at 7:15.

Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Jetlan Houcher (shootout winner)
2. Ryan Luiten (2 goals)
1. Tanner Jaillet (37 saves, 40 shots)