WHITECOURT, AB (January 26, 2013) — Tanner Jaillet became the first goaltender to shut out the Whitecourt Wolverines in AJHL history, as he backstopped his Fort McMurray Oil Barons to a dominating 6-0 win on the road on Saturday night.
So thorough was the loss for Whitecourt, that head coach Joey Bouchard ran his team through skating drills on the Scott Safety Centre ice approximately 10 minutes after the game had ended.
Kevin Miller (Stony Plain, AB) scored the game-winning goal and had an assist as well, while Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB) and Justin Fraser (Hussar, AB) both had two-goal games.
“We seemed very determined today,” said Barons head coach Gord Thibodeau. “Even in talking before warmup, guys seemed very focused – we've always said the third game's no excuse, fatigue's no excuse for us, so we wanted to make sure that we proved the first two weren't flukes.”
Miller opened the scoring exactly five minutes into the game on a MOB power-play, when linemate Hayden Dawes (Stony Plain, AB) cut to the side of the Wolverine net around a sprawling goaltender Tanner Kovacs, fed the puck in front from behind the goalie, and found Miller alone at the top of the crease for a tap-in goal.
Just over three minutes later, captain Mike Marianchuk (Innisfail, AB) fed a puck in front from behind the net, finding Justin Fraser (Hussar, AB) alone in front for a one-time goal to make it 2-0.
As the one minute warning approached, Jaillet made perhaps his best save of the season on a cross-crease pass to Matthew Abt of the Wolverines, denying him at the backdoor by jumping from post-to-post and getting his stick on the ice to deflect the puck wide.
Immediately afterwards, Miller took the puck up ice and fired a backhand shot from the right face-off circle that was tipped home by Houcher with 1:04 left in the period for a 3-0 MOB lead after just one period.
“They're moving the puck, they're sharing the puck,” said Thibodeau of the Dawes-Houcher-Miller line. “Great things happen when you've got guys out there that enjoy playing as a unit like that.”
Fraser, who had been denied by the post on two breakaways the night previous, scored his second of the game in the latter stages of the second period, off a second rebound shot set up by linemate Parker Evans-Campbell (High River, AB).
In the third, the Barons took advantage of another power play chance when another centring pass by Dawes found Houcher this time for another one-time goal at the front of the net to make it 5-0 Barons.
As time wound down, the Wolverines got a power-play opportunity of their own, but promptly turned the puck over at their own blueline to Marianchuk, who streaked in on a breakaway and scored the MOB's first shorthanded goal of the season at 16:28 for the 6-0 final.
Final shot counts were not reported by Whitecourt's official scorer, but Jaillet's shutout will register as his second of the season and the first in Whitecourt's history.
“He was calm, cool, collected,” said Thibodeau of his goalie. “He was in position on every shot, and every rebound, and it gives you a lot of confidence. He made a huge save – we go down and score – and that's a turning point in the game.”
In the dying seconds of the third, the Wolverines lost composure with a series of scrums and attempts at fights. In what could only generously be described as a fight, Wolverine defenceman Connor Dea jumped Barons forward Parker Evans-Campbell and began firing punches while he was down on the ice, before he could get his gloves off. However, Evans-Campbell soon turned him over and landed a series of shots of his own before the officials finally separated them.
The Wolverines also had an assistant coach ejected from the game.
“Emotion gets in the game,” said a diplomatic Thibodeau. “These are kids, but you know what, you have to take a long memory, and as we told our guys – it's worth it to take a punch in the head, or a stick, and we'll get that back at some point, and we'll make sure that the boys have the opportunity to return the favour.”
The win for the Barons marks their first six-point road weekend of the season, and moves them just one point back of Grande Prairie for fourth place in the AJHL North division.
They return home Wednesday night to take on the Sherwood Park Crusaders at 7:30 – pre-game coverage starts at 7:15 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Mike Marianchuk (1G/1A)
2. Kevin Miller (1G/1A)
1. Tanner Jaillet (shutout)