The Fort McMurray Oil Barons used their most dominate period of the season scoring all four goals in a 4-1win in the second period of Game 5 to knockout the Bonnyville Pontiacs with a 4-1 series win in the North Division semi-final.
“The second period was probably the best period that we played all year,” said MOB head coach Tom Keca. “We had scoring chances at 10-0 for us and I just thought that we dominated the second period and then you just sort of ride the wave all the way through the third period.”
Trailing 1-0 in the first period after Derek Brown opened the scoring for the Pontiacs 4:50 into the game, the MOB settled down around the mid-way point of the frame and swung the tides after the Yaks came out extremely hard at the opening face-off.
The Pontiacs led on the scoreclock and were outshooting the MOB 8-2 but at he media timeout the Barons found some life and began to take the game to the Pontiacs outshooting them 8-3 to end the period.
The Barons most dangerous line all night was the makeshift unit of Will Conley, Dylan Rauh and Toby Shattler. Rauh and Shattler both drawing into the lineup with the injury to Ryan Cox and suspension to Jack Hamly.
“Will had that one chance in the first period where it looked like he broke about three guys ankles coming through the neutral zone, he had a partial break but he couldn’t snipe it,” said Keca of the speed of Conley and how it makes him so dangerous. “It was a makeshift line because we have injuries and suspensions so it’ll be good to get those guys back. I mean it’s a great predicament to be in as a coach when you don’t know who the hecks going to play and who’s not and you can still get everybody contributing, that’s a luxury.”
Shattler and Rauh would set up the first MOB goal when Rauh’s shot bounced off Sandro Silvestre and right to Conley at the side of the goal. Conley made no mistake burying hist third goal of the post-season just 1:40 into the second period.
The Barons would take the lead five minutes later after a some great puck work in the offensive zone. Jarred White walked out of the corner and spotted Liam Izyk creeping into the slot. As White was falling he slid the puck to Izyk who fired a low hard shot into the bottom corner to make it 2-1.
The Barons kept coming and Conley would add his second of the game at 15:25 when he snapped a shot past the glove hand of Silvestre moments after Brandon Ralph was robbed from the same spot.
After the goal, Pontiacs defenceman Erik Donald took out his frustration with a slash to the mid section of Ralph and would head to the box for slashing. While on the penalty kill the Pontiacs took another penalty to put the MOB on a 5 on 3 advantage.
The Barons worked the puck to the front of the goal and as the loose puck bounced around in the crease, it eventually fell to Shane Fraser who tapped in his 2nd goal of the playoffs.
The Barons outshot the Pontiacs 21-4 in the period and would sit back in the third as they cruised to the series win.
The Casman Centre had an electrifying crowd Friday night with an announced attendance of 1,563. The biggest roar came in the third period when MOB defenceman Stefan Wood and Pontiacs captain Ryan Symington dropped the gloves with the two veterans trying to spark their benches.
“We sincerely appreciate the support that we do get from our fanbase. We called a timeout there with about a minute left because as coach I wanted to play all the 20 year olds for the last minute because that’s their way of bringing us home for this series but then also you want your younger guys to understand and soak everything in,” said Keca of the atmosphere in the building.
The MOB will now wait for their next round opponent as the Spruce Grove Saints extended their series with the Whitecourt Wolverines to a sixth game after a 4-1 win Friday. Game 6 of that series goes Sunday night in Spruce Grove with the Wolverines leading the series 3-2.
“We’re prepping for both teams,” said Keca when asked how he plans to spend his next couple of days. “I think what’s advantageous for us is we’ve sort of used it all year where sometimes you do want to know what the tendencies of the other teams are but really you want to focus on what you can control and your systems and your style of play so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Game 1 of the North Division final will be Friday March 31st at the Casman Centre.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines
Tom Keca discusses last night's series clinching win and looking ahead to the next round.