Marianchuk scores in OT as MOB fends off Saints 3-2

SPRUCE GROVE, AB (February 2, 2013) — Mike Marianchuk scored with 36 seconds left in overtime, capping off a dramatic 3-2 win for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on the road Saturday night.

The extra frame win came after a third-period comeback from the Saints, who had trailed 2-0 through two periods.

“It's frustrating – I thought we played forty pretty good minutes,” said Barons head coach Gord Thibodeau. “We didn't play poorly in the third, we just didn't take advantage of some power-plays – it's frustrating to give them some opportunities, but at the end of the day we came back with a nice overtime goal, and got the two points.”

“But the frustration is in giving a North division opponent another point.”

WIth the win, the MOB moves into third place in the AJHL North, one point back of Whitecourt for second, but in a very tightly contested division.

It took the Barons only 2:03 to open the scoring, when a shot by Adam Durkee (Lafayette, CO) was saved by goalie Tyler Fuhr, who kicked out a rebound to a waiting Erik Pedersen (Calgary, AB) who one-timed it into an open net for his fifth goal as a Baron.

The MOB doubled the lead at 13:32 on the power play when Hayden Dawes (Stony Plain, AB) jammed in a puck after a goal-mouth scramble, with the assist going to linemate Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB).

“Jetlan brings so much to the table,” said Thibodeau. “I've been very, very impressed with him right from the start. He's just a guy, consistently every night, who's a threat. Even at this level, there's not a lot of players that each and every night are going to be that type of offensive threat. He's going to be a special player.”

But the third period belonged to Saints, as they killed off four Barons powerplays, allowing only one shot through all four, and scored twice.

First, Cameron Hughes skated out of the corner into the slot and fired a shot glove side on Barons goalie Ethan Wood (Jasper, AB), and just over four minutes later affiliate player Tyler Busch scored on a turnaround shot from the right face-off circle to tie it up with just 6:25 left in regulation.

On the night, the Barons powerplay converted just once on six opportunities afforded by the Saints.

“I thought the biggest problem tonight was entry into the zone,” said Thibodeau. “Our defence were not very good, frankly, in terms of entry. You've got to dump the puck, and we just didn't dump very smart.”

Despite the two blemishes, Wood secured another solid performance, making 29 saves on 31 shots in his first start in 6 games.

“I thought he played well,” said Thibodeau. “He didn't get a lot of scoring chances against him in the 31 shots – I think maybe the second goal he'd like to have back, his stick was off the ice a little bit on that one – but to throw him in after sitting for a few weeks here, we said from the start, when our goaltenders give us a chance to win, they've had a great game, so I would say he had a great game.”

Wood's best saves came in overtime, when he had to stop 6 Spruce Grove shots.

The Barons mustered only 2, but it was the second that decided the game. Houcher carried in along the right wing side and was hit hard by affiliate defenceman Connor James – but the puck rolled to Marianchuk in the slot, who slid a wrister between Fuhr's pads to give the MOB the huge win.

The assist made Houcher the only multi-point scorer of the night.

“He made a great play, I thought, for the overtime goal, taking the hit,” Thibodeau added. “But the big part is that he tried to create an opportunity, and sometimes you get hit on those, but I'm sure he'll take the assist, and the effects of the hit will wear off quickly.”

The Barons return home Wednesday night to host the Lloydminster Bobcats at 7:30. Pre-game coverage starts at 7:15 on Country 93.3.

Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Cameron Hughes (1 goal)
2. Ethan Wood (29 saves, 31 shots)
1. Jetlan Houcher (2 assists)