The Fort McMurray Oil Barons looked to be well on their way to a victory Thursday night against the Drayton Valley Thunder before everything fell apart.
With the MOB leading 3-1 in the final five minutes of the third period, the Thunder got two goals from Tanner Hopps to force overtime and picked up the 4-3 win when Hopps scored in the fifth round of the shootout.
“It’s a tough loss because I thought we played extremely well,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca. Five-on-five we didn’t give anything up really…the lesson that we have to learn from this is when you allow a team to hang around you increase the chance of a lucky bounce coming into play and that’s exactly what happened.”
The Barons were in the driver’s seat for nearly the entire game. Not giving the Thunder anything and taking advantage of the chances they created.
The MOB (22-16-8) opened the scoring 5:28 into the game when Chad MacLean flew down the right wing and wrapped around the Thunder goal. Luke Lush made the save but Nolen Coventry was there to bang home the rebound.
The lead was short lived as the Thunder (21-22-5) tied the game 24 seconds later when James Orban streaked in and beat Chris Curr.
The Barons restored their lead 7:39 into the second period when Reed Morison and Kole Gable broke in on a two-on-one. Gable fed Morison who made no mistake burying his league leading 34th goal and snapping his four game goalless drought.
The Barons had a chance to put the Thunder away late in the second period when the Thunder’s Kabe Bleay was handed a five minute major for butt-ending. The MOB struggled to muster much of anything throughout the game on the powerplay and finished the night 0-6.
With the Thunder still sticking around in the third period, the Barons caught a break when the Thunder coughed up the puck in their own end and Jarred White and Liam Izyk had a 2-on-0. White dished to Izyk who snapped in his 8th of the season to put the Barons up 3-1 with 9:08 remaining.
The Thunder pressed and after a huge shot block from Brayden Koch, the Barons were unable to clear the zone and Hopps pounced on a puck in the slot and fired it into the top left corner past Curr.
Hopps would tie the game with Lush on the bench to force overtime after he squeaked a shot past Curr after the puck took a weird bounce off the end boards.
“We mention that shark mentality and when the game is 3-1 it has to be over then. We’re trying to use these last 15 games as a playoff prep sort of atmosphere and when you have a team 3-1 in the last five minutes that has to be automatic,” said Keca on the late collapse.
Overtime solved nothing and Hopps scored the lone goal of the shootout in the fifth round as the MOB fell to 2-5 in shootouts this season.
The Barons continue their road trip Friday night when they travel to Spruce Grove to take on the Saints.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmuray.com
Photo by: Dan Lines