Brooks gives Fort McMurray first regulation loss 2-0

BROOKS, AB (October 25, 2013) — Brandon Bruce scored the game's only two goals, and a 31-save performance by Tanner Jaillet (Red Deer, AB) wasn't enough, as the Brooks Bandits became the first team to defeat the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (17-1-1) in regulation Friday night, downing the MOB 2-0 and more than doubling them in shots, 33-16.

“It was a lack of work ethic,” said Oil Barons head coach Gord Thibodeau. “We didn't have a lot going tonight. We played a real good first period, I thought, and then played well in the last five minutes, but somehow, we missed 35 minutes of the game. You do that against good teams, you're going to find yourself in trouble.”

A fairly evenly played first period saw both teams end the opening 20 scoreless, with an even 7-7 shot count.

The second period wouldn't be similar at all.

Despite the MOB starting the frame with more than 1:30 of power-play, the Bandits took a 17-2 shot advantage, and finally scored with 46 seconds left when a Madison Dunn shot went over the Barons' net, bounced off the glass, back into the crease, and was jammed in by Bruce for the eventual game-winning goal.

“The surprising thing is, we [were] only down one-nothing,” said Thibodeau. “So, hats off to your goaltender. But, it was a game we deserved to lose. You can't sit around and wait for opportunities. If teams aren't turning the puck over, you've got to go force turnovers, and our forwards didn't quite get the memo.”

In the third, a closer 9-7 shot margin for Brooks saw the Barons create a few scoring chances in the final five minutes, but none successfully beat goalie Michael Fredrick, who posted the 16-save shutout. With 3 seconds left, Bruce put the game to bed with an empty net goal from the Fort McMurray blue line.

It was the third shutout for the Bandits in the last 4 games between the two teams.

“Guys get frustrated, we get some finger-pointing on the bench,” recalled Thibodeau, “the forwards are yelling at the D to move the puck, and the D are yelling at the forwards to try and take a body.”

“We had [Mitch] Vanderlaan, [Brennan] Saulnier, and [Alex] Cromwell, three forwards that I thought competed and worked hard in the offensive zone,” he added. “You're not going to win many nights with three forwards out of twelve. I don't blame our D; they spent a lot of time in their own end in the second period, because we certainly didn't hang on to any pucks in the offensive zone and we certainly didn't give them a break.”

The Barons continue their road trip tomorrow night when they travel to Okotoks to take on the Oilers at 7:00 PM.

“It's hard to say what'll transpire,” said Thibodeau. “I suspect that the hangover will be more than one game, but we're going to be in a tough part tomorrow against a very tough team. The great thing about it – when you get on the road, you're in a pressure situation, it's not so much building character as it's exposing character, and we saw tonight that we've got some flaws.”

“The great part about it is, we've got 10 days off after this weekend and we'll address those.”

Pre-game coverage starts at 6:45 on Country 93.3.

Country 93.3 3 stars:
1. Brandon Bruce (2 goals)
2. Michael Fredrick (16 save shutout)
3. Tanner Jaillet (31 saves, 32 shots)