After blowing a one goal lead late in the third period a night earlier, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons made sure they gave themselves all the insurance they needed to not duplicate the result Saturday night as they faced the Spruce Grove Saints for a second straight night at the Casman Centre.
The MOB (6-1-1) scored three goals in the third period en route to a convincing 5-1 win over their North Division rivals.
“We liked the third period a lot better tonight than what we did yesterday,” said Oil Barons head coach Tom Keca. “By our count we only gave up one scoring chance in the third period. A more telling sign for us is we had 12 blocked shots today so that tells us that our players were willing to do whatever it took to get the job done.”
The MOB squandered several scoring chances Friday night but capitalized early on the few they were able to generate in the first period. Second year forward Nicholas Leeseberg scored a pair of goals to put the MOB up 2-0 after one period.
Leeseberg has been flying around the ice all season but hadn’t had much puck luck around the opponents net. That is until Saturday night. Leeseberg banked a shot off the back of Saints goalie Parker Tobin to open the scoring before intercepting a pass behind the Saints goal and stuffing it in on a wrap-around for his second goal in a five minute span.
“Nicholas is an individual who stayed in touch over the course of the summer and made it very clear that he wanted to be a go to guy, he wanted to be somebody that the team counted on in a lot of different situations and I think once he understands what he’s really able to do, I think he’s still only scratching the surface, I think there’s only one guy on our team who skates as fast as he does,” said Keca of the play of Leeseberg so far this season.
The MOB added a third goal in the period but for the second straight night, the Barons had a goal waved off. Connor Lyons appeared to score his first goal as a Baron but the goal was disallowed after the officiating crew deemed the net was off. The disallowed goal was the third in two games for the Barons.
The Saints (6-3-1) were able to cut the lead in half on a late powerplay in the second period when Parker Saretsky hammered in a bouncing puck at the side of the goal for his 4th of the year.
Entering the third period with a one goal lead for a second straight night, the MOB made sure the Saints had no chance of any late game heroics. Will Conley busted down the left wing and banged a shot past Tobin for his 6th goal of the year 4:29 into the period.
The Barons dressed 11 forwards for the third time this season as the injury bug continues to hit their forward group. Trevor Schroder was hit in Friday’s game and separated his shoulder. The winger is expected to be out of the line-up for several weeks.
Down a forward, the MOB’s fourth line saw a rotating winger and their best shift came mid-way through the third period when Reed Morison found Jackson Verstraete twice in the high slot. Both of Verstraete’s shots were blocked but the MOB regained possession. Luke Harvie fed Jake Berry who fspotted Verstraete behind the Saints defence and the rookie roofed a shot from in tight under the bar for his 2nd goal of the year to put the MOB up 4-1.
“Jackson reminds me a lot of a Shane Fraser his first year. Maybe not the fleetest of foot or the fastest guy out there but he’s always around the puck, he’s always in the play, he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty, he’ll block shots and make hits,” said Keca on the play of rookie Jackson Verstraete this season.
The MOB would get one more when Conley sent a shot from his own blueline into an empty Saints goal with 1:55 left in the game. The goal was Conley’s team leading 7th and second shorthanded goal of the season.
Next up for the MOB, they will welcome the Bonnyville Pontiacs to town for a Thanksgiving Monday matinee game. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
AUDIO: MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show.