The Fort McMurray Oil Barons kicked off the 2020-21 AJHL regular season on a winning note with two straight victories over the Drayton Valley Thunder.
MOB goalie Evan Fradette was the star of the weekend stopping all 49 shots faced over the two games and leading the Barons to back to back 3-0 wins at Centerfire Place.
The 19 year old second year Oil Baron won the starters job out of the development camp after having a strong showing in the exhibition play. Head Coach Gord Thibodeau has raved about the netminders work ethic this off-season as he came into camp in excellent shape and showed a commitment to improve on a solid rookie season a year ago.
On Friday the Thunder came out fast and threw the body around sending MOB players flying all over the ice. The period would end with the game still scoreless.
The MOB turned the tide in the second period and began taking the game to the Thunder and off a turnover would capitalize for the games first goal.
Konrad Belcourt sent Michael Hodge down the left wing and he dropped a pass to Hassen Akl. His initial shot was blocked but he stuck with the play and slipped the rebound through the legs of Jackson Berry to score the first goal of the season for the MOB 6:01 into the period.
The Barons would take that lead into the third period and added a pair of goals 50 seconds apart. Ty Mosimann rushed up ice and weaved his way across the Thunder blueline before wiring a shot into the top right corner to make it 2-0.
The Thunder would take a penalty right after sending the MOB to the powerplay where Taige Harding blasted home a Hodge pass.
Fradette shut the door making 24 saves and the MOB killed off all six Thunder powerplays for the 3-0 win.
Saturday saw the two teams once again play to a scoreless first period with both goaltenders coming up big. Fradette and Eric Ward made nine saves a piece.
The second period would see more of the same as it was the goaltenders again shutting the door. The biggest save of the weekend came from Fradette when Connor McClennon was left all alone in front of the MOB goal. The Philadelphia Flyers draft pick tried to out wait Fradette but he didn’t bite and made the save to keep the game at 0-0.
The third period was a different story as it would be the Barons who would dominate the period and strike twice early to force the Thunder to call a time out. Hunter Lamb intercepted a pass deep in the Thunders zone and slipped a shot past Ward for the games first goal 1:16 into the period.
Less than a minute later Max McCoy raced off the bench to force another turnover and his shot was tipped by Joe Clark to give the MOB a 2-0 lead.
Lamb would score his second goal of the period off a rebound on a powerplay when Harding’s shot was stopped by Ward and popped up in the air. Lamb would bat it in to make it a 3-0 game.
The Barons killed off all nine Thunder powerplays over the weekend with Fradette being a big part of the special teams.
It was a strong start for the MOB as the Thunder came into action after a 6-1-0 exhibition record that included five wins over Spruce Grove and a split against Brooks while scoring 27 goals in the seven games.
The last time the MOB shutout their opponent in back to back games to start the year was in the 2016-17 season when they beat the Grande Prairie Storm 4-0 and 8-0.
Next up for the MOB they’ll head to Lloydminster to take on the Bobcats on Friday and Saturday. You can listen to all the action on Country 93.3.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
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