SHERWOOD PARK, AB (January 6, 2013) — The Fort McMurray Oil Barons (21-17-4) suffered their second consecutive regulation loss on the road Sunday afternoon, falling 4-0 to the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
The Barons were outshot 35-18 and have now scored only 3 regulation-time goals in their last four games.
“A huge step back,” summarized associate coach Tom Keca. “To be honest, there are a lot of words that I would like to use to describe the effort, but – very poor.”
“From the first guy to the last guy, there was zero fight, zero compete, we were scared, and they took it to us.”
The game remained close after the opening period, in which the Crusaders outshot the MOB 13-5 but only converted once on a shorthanded breakaway by leading scorer Garth Wallin. In net for the Barons, goaltender Ethan Wood (Jasper, AB) made a multitude of saves on quality scoring chances to keep the game close.
But the second frame proved to be the decisive one, as the Crusaders added three more. The first, when Danny Smith fed a pass from behind the net to Nicholas Jones, who one-timed a wrist shot past Wood to double the lead.
Jones then scored his second of the night on a tic-tac-toe passing play in front of the MOB net on a 5-on-3 opportunity afforded by two inauspicious penalties taken 30 seconds apart by the Barons.
The scoring was capped off at the 10:10 mark of the second when Dillon Massie was found open between the hashmarks and slid a spinorama backhand shot inside the right post for the eventual 4-0 win.
Crusaders goalie Matt Tomkins registered just his second career shutout with 18 saves, while Wood stopped 31 of 35 shots for the Barons.
“We gave up not only first opportunities, but we gave up second and third because we didn't tie up sticks,” said Keca. “You can only ask your goalie to do so much, and Ethan did – he made the stops, but unfortunately we weren't ready to go today.”
The Barons were afforded 4 power plays in the first period, and 5 in the game overall, but converted on none, and registered fewer than one shot per power play, while allowing a shorthanded goal.
“It goes back to a compete level,” said Keca of the man advantage unit, which is converting at a less than 7% efficiency rate on the road. “There's no reason for a team to be so good at home [ranked 2nd in the league] and then so poor on the road.”
“We can have guys in proper position, but if you're not willing to battle and compete for loose pucks – we allow them to ice the puck, and then you're breaking out on a continuous basis.”
Fort McMurray has the next two days off before hitting the road again to Spruce Grove on Wednesday night – one day before the CJHL trading deadline.
“We're not going to get too high or too low,” Keca added. “We're obviously disappointed right now, but we have to put this behind us, it's another crucial game Wednesday, it's on the road, we've had success – the two points in Spruce Grove before Christmas.”
“You want to see the character of your team and how guys are going to respond – the week is what it is, everyone knows that it's trade deadline, it is a little bit stressful for some guys, but that hopefully won't influence guys – we want our guys to play hard night in and night out.”
Game time at the Grant Fuhr Arena is 7pm with pre-game coverage at 6:45 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Matt Tomkins (18 shot shutout)
2. Dillon Massie (1 goal, 1 assist)
1. Nicholas Jones (2 goals, 1 assist)