It was a sight to see and certainly one for the record books.
Fort McMurray Oil Barons defenceman Taner Miller scored a natural hat-trick in a 4:15 span in the first period to lead the MOB past the visiting Drayton Valley Thunder 5-2 Friday night at the Casman Centre.
The MOB (20-4-2) were opening a five game homestand against a Thunder team (6-22-0) that they had beat three times already this season. But this was a bit of a different Thunder squad. A new coach behind the bench in former Spruce Grove Saints Assistant Coach Ryan Rechner who had doubled the team’s win total in his first five games behind the bench.
The Thunder opened the scoring 8:48 into the first period, seconds after their powerplay had expired. Ethan Green fired a shot towards goal that hit the leg of an Oil Barons player and eluded the glove of Eric Szudor. The goal was Green’s 4th of the year.
From that point on, the first period became the Taner Miller Show. Miller would tie the game on a powerplay at the 13:55 mark after a cross ice give and go with Reed Morison. Miller one-timed a Morison feed past Rory Dumelie to tie the game at 1-1.
The Barons would quickly head back to the powerplay and Miller would bury his second goal five seconds into the man advantage. Jack Hamly won the face-off to Ryan Conroy and he teed up Miller as the 19 year old blasted home his 4th of the year.
The back to back powerplay goals gave the Oil Barons just their second and third home powerplay goals of the season as the MOB continue to slowly improve on the man advantage.
“Confidence is such an integral part to a successful team and we’ve said time and time again, how much better we’d be if we had a decent powerplay and for us to get two goals today was very good and even on the third one we had some chances,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca of his team’s powerplay which finished 2-3 on the night.
Miller would complete the natural hat-trick at 18:09 of the first period. Jarred White who returned to the Oil Barons line-up after missing 23 straight games with a concussion picked up the puck in the corner and spotted Miller jumping up on the back door. A quick shot beat Dumelie and the 1,245 fans in attendance erupted as the hats poured down at the Casman Centre.
“Brock Maschmeyer, Colton Parayko, all the defencemen that we’ve had here, I don’t know whether they’ve had a natural hat-trick like that but it’s a testament to Taner for putting himself in those positions as everyone was a back door play,” said Keca of Miller who sits 2nd in defencemen scoring with 22 points in 26 games this season.
“Taner Miller is one of the nicest guys you’re ever going to meet so when he can score three that’s always nice.”
Miller joked after the game saying the last time he scored a hat-trick he was playing Novice hockey as an eight year old.
The Oil Barons jumped on the Thunder early in the second period and found themselves quickly up 5-1 four minutes into the period after goals from White and Will Conley.
Playing in his first game since September 17th, Jarred White found the puck in the high slot and ripped a shot into the top right corner for his first goal of the year.
“The beauty of Whitey is the fact that he’s such an intelligent individual on and off the ice, he only knows how to play one way and that’s to play hard,” said Keca. “What you see is what you get with him.”
Conley continued his torrid pace, notching a goal for the third straight game and giving him 22 on the year. Merritt Oszytko carried the puck into the Thunder zone as Conley came in late. No Thunder player picked up Conley as he walked in and wired a shot past Dumelie. That would be the end of Dumelie’s night as the goaltender allowed five goals on 17 shots.
Tymen Edelkoort came in relief and shut the door the rest of the way making 29 saves as the MOB outshot the Thunder 46-24 in the game.
Vincent Beaudry would notch the second Thunder goal when his shot deflected up and over top of Szudor but that was as close as the Thunder would get.
The MOB are in action next week when they welcome the first place Okotoks Oilers to the Casman Centre on Thursday night. The MOB will then take on the Olds Grizzlys on Friday on Teddy Bear Toss night in support of Santas Anonymous.
Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 post game show.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
Photo by: Dan Lines, Fort McMurray Oil Barons