For the third straight game, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons found themselves playing extra hockey. The MOB and Grande Prairie Storm headed to overtime tied at 2-2 Thursday night at the Casman Centre before Liam Izyk propelled the MOB to the 3-2 win scoring his third goal of the season.
After three huge stops by Eric Szudor in overtime, Izyk picked up the puck in his own zone and rushed down the ice. The rookie forward blew past the Storm defenceman and ripped a backhand shot over Arik Weersink and into the top corner to give the MOB the 3-2 win and pick up their league leading 16th victory.
“He does so many things for us, he’s responsible defensively, kills a lot of penalties for us, wins face-offs and for a player like that to step in and have an end to end rush in overtime, we’ll take that,” said MOB Head Coach TomKeca on the play of Izyk this season.
This was the third meeting of the season between the two teams with the MOB (16-4-1) taking the first two by a combined score of 12-0 on the opening weekend.
The Storm (6-8-4) would strike first on powerplay when Jake Elmer’s centering pass deflected off the leg of Taner Miller and beat Szudor at 13:47 of the first period.
The Barons would come right back 1:27 later when Brandon Ralph danced around Landon Vollman and beat Weersink upstairs for his eighth goal of the year.
Felip Gosselin would restore the Storm’s lead in the second period on an odd man rush. Dolan Bjornson dropped the puck to a trailing Gosselin who beat Szudor low to put the Storm up 2-1.
The MOB would have the better scoring chances throughout the night but struggled to solve Arik Weersink who made 42 saves in the loss.
It would take a made scramble in front of the Storm’s net and a player standing in the right place at the right time for the Barons to break through. In his first career AJHL game, defenceman Gunner Kinniburgh crept in from the point and found a loose puck in the slot, with Weersink down and out, the 16 year old fired a shot into the open net to tie the game.
“Great job by Gunner on the goal, he’s exactly where we want our defencemen to be. It’s a huge scramble in front and while they clog the house huge, he picks up the garbage and nets that tying goal,” said Keca on Kinniburgh’s first career goal.
“He’s a player that came to us in our main camp, had a great pre-season with us and there were actually times where we considered keeping him as a young player. It’s all about development and we’ll try to get him in as many games as we can and hopefully he’ll be a staple on our backend next year.”
The game would remained tied and head to overtime. The Storm had some trickery up their sleeves in the opening seconds as a quick line change left Elmer all alone at the far blueline. A stretch pass found Elmer and he walked in on Szudor who made the save of the game to keep the extra frame going. Moments later, Bjornson out muscled Curtis Roach to the puck and fired a point blank shot on Szudor. The 19 year old stood tall and stopped the rebound as well, giving his team a chance to win.
“We got a little puck focused and their guy (Elmer) got behind us and it was one of their leading scorers to boot so for Szudor to come up with a big stop is great,” said Keca on the game saving stop by Szudor who made 25 saves in his eighth win of the year.
The Barons will head into a much needed seven day break after playing eight games in a 14 day stretch. The MOB will return to action Friday November 11 as they welcome the Drumheller Dragons to town.
With several players on the shelf, Keca provided on injury update saying he hopes to have most of the bodies back in the lineup by next week. Defencemen, Jordan Steenbergen, JC Thivierge and Jayden Pannu all hope to play at some point next week. As for Jackson McKInstry, he continues to recover from a shoulder injury and began skating last week. The 20 year has only played in two games this season and will be a welcome addition to the lineup when he is able to return.
“He started skating with us here, he was skating on his own last week. He went to physio and they were a little worried about his strength and I said yeah but that’s Jack so that’s not going to change overnight,” said Keca with a laugh. “For him right now it’s about conditioning, so when we get back to practice on Monday we’ll throw him to the wolves and that’s a guy who is going to give our lineup a boost.”
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines
MOB Head Coach and General Manager Tom Keca recaps his view of the game.