The Fort McMurray Oil Barons rolled into Sherwood Park Saturday night in need of a complete team effort and were looking for a win to finish a tough stretch of six straight games on the road.
The MOB were led by a 40 save performance from Chris Curr and scored timely goals en route to a 3-1 victory over the Crusaders.
“For us to bounce back and get the effort from every single individual – I don’t think this is a win where we can single out one or two guys…I thought Chris Curr was maybe a little better than everyone else,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca with a smile as the MOB finished up their road swing with a 2-3-1 record.
Twice throughout the game, the Barons (23-17-8) were able to weather the storm and hold the high scoring Crusaders (33-12-2) at bay.
The first onslaught came in the opening ten minutes of the first period. Curr made several big saves and Arjun Atwal missed two partial breakaways for the Crusaders.
The Barons waited for their opportunity and it came with 2:10 left in the frame. Tyson Scott hit Reed Morison at the far blueline and he broke in all alone. Morison picked the top left corner on Carter Gylander to give the MOB a 1-0 lead after one period. Ty Ettinger drew an assist on the goal, his first point as an Oil Baron.
The MOB capitalized at 7:06 of the second period to double up their lead after a good forecheck from Nolen Coventry. Walking out of the corner, Coventry fed Nathan Carl in the slot. The puck tipped off his stick and went right to Brayden Koch who was pinching down from the right point. Koch chipped a backhand shot past Gylander for his second goal of the season.
“A great celly, I don’t know if he’s been working on that or what,” said Keca with a laugh on his young defenceman’s goal. “We’re trying to get our defencemen at certain points to engage more in the offensive zone and he jumped down and it was a great play by the guys and it was a crucial goal for us.”
With 15 seconds left in the period, the MOB lost a face-off in their own zone but Chad MacLean jumped through and got the puck to the boards and found Tyson Scott. MacLean hustled up ice and Scott sent him in on a breakaway where he pulled the puck to his backhand to beat Gylander with 7 seconds left in the period.
With the Barons leading 3-0 in the third, the Crusaders threw everything they had at the MOB, outshooting the Barons 17-3 in the period and holding the Barons off the shot clock for the opening 13 minutes of the frame.
Curr once again stood on his head, putting out his best performance of the season to preserve the win. The Crusaders did get a goal from Jacob Franczak but that was all they could muster.
“There was such a concentrated effort in the third period to make sure we did all the little things. Obviously we were on our heels but also having said that we didn’t give up a ton of grade A quality scoring chances,” said Keca.
The Barons penalty kill was a strong point in the game and over the weekend, killing off all five Crusader powerplays and going a perfect 14-14 over the three games.
Next up for the MOB, they return home to the Casman Centre to host the Whitecourt Wolverines on Friday and the Grande Prairie Storm on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. for both games.
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 post-game show.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
Photo by: Dan Lines