MOB close out 2015 with 7-2 loss to Bandits

While 2015 came to a close with a 7-2 loss to the Brooks Bandits Saturday night the Fort McMurray Oil Barons head into the Christmas break riding their most successful road trip of the season after sweeping the Calgary teams in two-of-four road games this week which also included a 4-2 loss to Canmore Friday.

“They scored three goals in the last five minutes we had a tired group […] when you only have five [defencemen] and you lose one [Jordan Steenbergen] in the first couple minutes of the game it puts a lot of pressure on the four remaining guys,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca in a post-game interview on the bus. “I loved the battle of our group I thought that the score was 4-2 [after the second period] we had some opportunities there in the third period.”

The game was tied 1-1 through twenty minutes following a Shawn Weber goal in the final minute to draw the game even after Dylan McRory opened the scoring for Brooks exactly six minutes into the contest.

Szudor Returns

Shots were 39-24 with Eric Szudor making 32 saves on 39 shots in his first game since recovering from a lower-body injury.

“I thought that he battled extremely hard and he looked a little bit rusty but we’re going to be patient with Eric he’s going to have seven to ten days and he’s going to get a chance to get a break and he’s going to get an opportunity to work with [Mike Brodeur] our goaltending coach.”

The 18-year-old netminder made a number of show stopping saves, especially in the first two periods to keep the game close.

The Tally

In the second period Brooks secured goals from Jesse Pereira, Jeff Malott, and former Oil Baron Landon Welykholowa who notched his first of two of the night, this one on the power-play.

Will Conley broke the MOB’s 15-day long power-play drought with another late period goal with just 33 seconds left in the middle frame to notch his eighth of the season against his former club to make it 4-2 Brooks.

In the final five minutes of the third Brooks exploded for another three to tally up the 7-2 score with goals from Jared Cockrell, a second from Welykholowa along with a Joe O’Connor goal.

Jonathan Reinhart stopped 22 of 24 shots for his second win of the season with the Bandits, a perfect record since being acquired from Nanaimo of the BCHL over two weeks ago.

Fort McMurray was one-for-six on the man-advantage while Brooks scored two goals on eight opportunities.

Reflecting on 2015

Considering it was also the final game of 2015 for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons Keca took the time to reflect on the season-to-date.

“We knew that this was going to be a process and we were going to have to develop the young talent that we have coming in, obviously if you look at the standings not anywhere near where we expected to be or where I want to be but you know what the maturation and the development that we’ve seen from our young players is very encouraging.”

Fort McMurray closes the calendar year with a record of 6-26-6 with 18 points, just one back of Grande Prairie for the final playoff spot in the North Division.

Looking ahead to 2016

“The message to our players after the game was this is a time when you want to enjoy your family, be with loved ones, be safe but as the old adage says you want to re-charge your batteries come back in about eight days and we want to be bigger and stronger and faster,” said Keca. “We have to make sure that we continue to get better each and every day.”

The players will have time to rest and recoup until Dec. 28 when they’ll return to Fort McMurray for practice ahead of the beginning of their 2016 portion of the schedule with back-to-back games in Whitecourt on Dec. 2-3.

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Photo taken on September 25, 2015 in Fort McMurray by Dan Lines.