The Fort McMurray Oil Barons may have deserved a better fate Saturday night against the Lloydminster Bobcats but credit must be given when it’s due and the Bobcats battled to the final buzzer and came away with a 3-1 win.
The loss was the Oil Barons (32-10-3) fourth in their last five games and third in a row as the MOB find themselves in a January slump with 15 games left in the regular season.
Despite the recent slide, Head Coach Tom Keca isn’t ready to push any panic buttons and felt his team put forth a solid road effort in the loss.
“I thought that we were very good tonight. I thought our neutral zone transition was good, we finally had three forwards holding lanes, I thought that we moved the puck, we created more offence. Really the only thing that concerns us as a coaching staff is the offence is drying up a bit with only the one goal,” said Keca who noted he held a brief meeting with his leadership group prior to the game to talk about the team’s recent play.
“Every year there’s a week or two week phase where things just aren’t going right and we’re in that phase right now and it’s a challenge for our leadership group and the guys that will follow that we try to stick to the process that we’ve instilled since day one and we’ll get out of this and we’ll be better for it as well.”
The Oil Barons out shot the Bobcats 26-15 through two periods but came out down 1-0 after Zach Kaiser tapped in a rebound in the final minute of the second period past Chris Curr.
In just his second game with the Bobcats (19-27-2), Bailey Brkin was outstanding in goal. Turning aside every Oil Baron attack thrown his way. Making big saves off the MOB’s leading scorers Will Conley and Reed Morison and then robbing Jordan Roy from in tight.
Roy was playing in his first game with the Oil Barons after signing with the club at the January 10 CJHL trade deadline. Roy brings a towering presence to the team as he stand 6’3, 210lbs and brings nearly 100 games of WHL experience having played with the Red Deer Rebels and Tri-City Americans over the past two seasons.
“Loved the play of Jordan Roy, I thought that he’s going to be a huge addition for us. Just a bigger bodied guy that banged a lot of bodies,” said Keca of Roy who made his presence felt early throwing two big checks in the Bobcats zone.
The MOB tied the game 1-1 when Merritt Oszytko knocked in a loose puck in the crease 49 seconds into the third period. The goal was Oszytko’s 18th and was assisted by Shane Fraser and Gunner Kinniburgh.
A Bobcat powerplay near the 9:00 mark of the period would lead to the eventual game winner when Brayden Jenkins wired a shot over Curr’s shoulder. Kaiser would bury his second of the game into an empty net with three seconds left to round out the scoring.
The Oil Barons took the season series against the Bobcats with a 4-1-1 record against their division rival.
The MOB will finish up their three game road trip in Bonnyville Sunday. Puck drop is at 2:00 p.m.
Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photo by: Dan Lines, Fort McMurray Oil Barons