The Oil Barons had a few firsts against Bonnyville last night, a first win against the Pontiacs this season was not among them. Newly acquired 18-year-old forward Will Conley scored in his MOB debut, while rookie Damon Porter notched his very first Junior ‘A’ goal in a 4-2 Oil Barons loss.
“The first period was a feeling out process I thought that we actually did a better job in the second period of keeping them to the outside the problem is they look for these long passes and then they allow for that second wave because their defencemen like to initiate on the rush they allow their defencemen to join in and capitalize on odd-man rushes,” said Tom Keca, Oil Barons Head Coach on the ROCK 97.9 post-game show.
After a scoreless first period Bonnyville jumped out to a 3-0 lead with two second period goals from Zach Mills and Derek Brown and an early third period marker from Brandon Whistle.
A late push by the Oil Barons to draw within a goal was squashed by Brown’s second goal of the game with just under five minutes to go in the third period. It was another example of this young Oil Barons squad never packing it in.
“We’ve got ten players that are under 18 just as forwards […]we’re going to do our job as a coaching staff to make sure the guys stay positive and keep working hard, the guys are giving us what they can right now. I thought that at points today we almost tried to do a little bit too much.”
New kids on the block
As for Keca’s newly acquired forwards Conley was certainly impressive with some strong dashes of offensive talent, Hayden Ursulak also played a strong game.
“I think that while [Conley ]gives you that flash and dash [Ursulak]is just an all-around solid player. They’ve really had one practice and we haven’t gone over system work,” said Keca.
Conley’s goal was scored with a strong rush down the right wing followed by a heavy shot that beat Olivier Charest on the far side.
Porter’s came from a Shawn Weber feed in front, Porter was driving to the goal and was able to knock it in for his first goal of the year, the former Calgary Buffalo is one of a number of Oil Barons rookies starting to hit their stride midway through the season.
“I think we’re seeing the emergence of a player like Dylan Rauh who’s playing a more prominent role and he’s getting more opportunities and Damon Porter’s been a lot better in the last couple of weeks and he gets rewarded for his goal,” said Keca. “I think Shane Fraser’s been a silent guy that doesn’t wow you with his speed but just with his overall tenacity and his willingness to get into the corners.”
Ravi Dattani made 39 saves on 43 shots in the loss, while Charest turned aside 21 of 23 shots faced.
Neither team converted on the special teams with Bonnyville getting just a single power-play, the Oil Barons had a pair of man-advantage opportunities.
A Storm is brewing
Not much time to rest for the Oil Barons who host the Grande Prairie Storm tonight.
”They’re [Grande Prairie] a team that had a lot of injuries at the start of the year and they’re getting healthy. By all accounts from what we’ve seen so far they’re a hard working team that’s going to try and get the puck in deep and punish your defence and turn pucks over,” said Keca.
Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight, you can catch the pre-game show on ROCK 97.9 starting at 7:45 p.m.
Article courtesy of mymcmurray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines