A quick two game road trip through the Edmonton area saw the Oil Barons lose two games in less than 24 hours. It started with a 4-0 loss to Spruce Grove Saturday that was followed by a 4-2 loss to Sherwood Park on Sunday afternoon.
“They [Sherwood Park] move their feet, we got caught flat footed, I don’t think we were very focused there were a couple plays in the first period that went a certain way where our guys became more focused on a little bit of retribution,” said Oil Barons Tom Keca. “One of their guys [Luke Kempf] shot a puck directly into our players [Mitchell Torrens] face […] I think that our guys just sort of got unfocused.”
Torrens got mixed up with Luke Kempf in the first period. Then early in the second Kempf was coming down his right wing with the puck, in on Torrens a left-side defender and shot the puck straight into Torrens’ mouth, whether it or on purpose is unclear, although the Oil Barons responded as if it were no accident.
At the 14:22 mark of the second Tyler Dea delivered a slash that sent Kempf to the ground, Dea was thrown out of the game, given a ten minute Game Misconduct penalty along with a five minute slashing major.
Dea is likely to be suspended. Torrens is being evaluated in Fort McMurray this morning, although he didn’t lose any teeth, he will at the very least need a hefty dose of stitches to close the cut under his lip.
Tyler Maltby exemplifies what the Crusaders are all about, big and strong with a good hard shot and deceptively smooth hands in tight. He scored two on the afternoon, notching his thirteenth and fourteenth goals of the year, already half-way to his goal scoring total from last season.
Both goals saw Maltby posted up beside Ravi Dattani down low and use his big body to help him score.
“The one thing that Sherwood Park does better than other teams is that when they do move the puck from down low to up high they beat you to the front of the net. If you don’t have proper positioning you’re going to be in trouble and that’s exactly what happened on those goals.”
Maltby’s goals came in the first and second period helping the Crusaders take a 3-0 lead into the third frame.
The Comeback That Wasn’t
Lindsey MacLellan put the Oil Barons on the board midway through the third period for his first of the season, also his first as an Oil Baron knocking home a Cody Hodgson rebound on a 3-2 along with Shawn Weber. The goal was a nice reward for MacLellan who comes to the rink with a lunch pail and work boot mentality every night.
Then it was Austin Holmes scoring his fifth of the season, Holmes has had some great chance this year but has had a hard time scoring. This one was a thing of beauty, a great cross ice saucer pass from Cole Todd in his own end found Holmes streaking just feet outside the Sherwood Park blue-line. Holmes burnt his defender then slipped the puck five-hole on Zac Klassen on the break-away at 15:51, all of a sudden the MOB were down just a goal.
“[Holmes] has been snake-bit for a while and that’s what we expect from him he’s got that wide speed and there was actually three other times today where he broke wide but just missed the net on the far side. We thought that maybe their goaltender was fighting the puck and we had another chance there with six minutes left that could’ve also changed the outcome,” said Keca.
Although the comeback wasn’t meant to be, Cameron Brezinski scored an empty netter with 15 seconds left in the period.
“We’ve got guys that aren’t producing that won’t move their feet and we need to have a certain type of identity if we’re going to move forward. There are some guys that they aren’t telling us that they don’t want to play but sometimes you just question because the effort is very selective and we don’t want to build our team around that, that’s not what the Oil Barons are about.”
It’s the same message that Keca has been repeating throughout most of the season, it’s hard to win in a competitive league with such a young team, especially when some players aren’t carrying their weight.
Neither team was able to score on the power-play as the Oil Barons were blanked on their four chances while killing off all five of their penalties, including the five-minute slashing major levelled on Tyler Dea.
Ravi Dattani was excellent again stopping 39 of 42 shots; he also picked up an assist on Holmes’ goal.
Zac Klassen made 18 saves on 20 shots for the Crusaders.
Tyler Maltby had two goals and an assist to cap off a great night.
The Oil Barons have a full work week off before they host former assistant-coach and local product Ryan Allen and his Drayton Valley Thunder for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.
Drayton Valley is a .500 hockey team with a record of 6-6-4, good for 16 points on the year. They’re streaking having won three straight. The Thunder sit sixth in the eight team North Division.
Article courtesy of mymcmurray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines. Photo taken on October 21, 2015 in Fort McMurray.