OLDS, AB (November 11, 2012) — The Fort McMurray Oil Barons (10-12-2) came back from two separate one-goal deficits to tie the Olds Grizzlys (10-13-1), but Bart Moran's mid-third period rebound goal stood up as the winner as the MOB fell 4-2 on the road Sunday afternoon.
The Barons remain in seventh place out of eight teams in the AJHL North, 4 points back of the Drayton Valley Thunder for sixth.
“I know that the fans are going to look up tomorrow in the standings and notice that we lost all three games,” said associate coach Tom Keca, “but as a coaching staff we honestly feel that we could've won 2 of the 3 games on this road trip.”
The loss capped off an 0-for-3 weekend for the Barons, who had entered the trip on a two-game winning streak, after a dramatic comeback win at home over Bonnyville.
“There's a delicate balance between wanting to get points, obviously, and expecting a certain amount of compete from your guys, and I felt that we definitely competed today,” Keca said of the effort in Olds.
“It's frustrating as a coach when confidence is so fragile for a young group like we have,” he added. “You always want them to experience success when they do work hard, but it doesn't always work out that way.”
The Grizzlys opened the scoring 3:58 into the first period when a centring pass from the right-wing corner found forward Mitch Owsley alone in the slot, firing a wrister past goaltender Ethan Wood (Jasper, AB) for a 1-0 lead.
But less than two minutes later, the Barons were afforded a 5-on-3 powerplay, which took them only 9 seconds to convert, as a one-timer from Harry Hendrix (Calgary, AB) beat netminder Ethan Jemieff to knot the game up at 1 goal apiece.
For Hendrix, it was his team-leading 12th goal and team-leading 24th point, and snapped a streak of 36 straight road power-plays that the MOB hadn't converted.
As time ticked away in the first period, though, Grizzly forward Chase Paylor fired a bad-angle shot from the bottom of the right-wing face-off circle that somehow found the opposite post, bounced into the crease, and eventually into the back of the net off the stick of Blair Oneschuk, to give the Grizzlys a 2-1 lead.
The second period was scoreless despite an official 18-12 shot margin in favour of the Barons. Multiple point-blank saves from both Wood and Jemieff kept it a close affair through 40 minutes.
The long awaited tying goal came for the MOB at the 5:26 mark of the third when Danny Gayle (Calgary, AB) extended his hot streak, working his way around an Olds defender from the right-wing corner and into the slot, to fire a wrister past Jemieff and deadlock the score once more at 2-2.
The line of Gayle with newcomer Doug Jones (Calgary, AB) and Parker Evans-Campbell (High River, AB) continued to be the most consistent combination for the Barons, adding a potent extra line for a MOB offence that had relied heavily on Hendrix and linemate Kevin Lacroix (St. Albert, AB) to that point.
“We know what we expect out of Jonesy and Danny,” Keca said. “E.C. had a really good weekend for us, so hopefully he's showing some spark that he's going to be an offensive player as well.”
“You need two lines,” Keca said. “It's too easy for opposing teams to focus in on one line. The biggest thing for us is, we just want to get healthy.”
The Barons were missing defenceman and captain Brock Maschmeyer, defenceman Mike Green, forward Mike Marianchuk, defenceman Sam House, forward Erik Pedersen, and forward Justin Fraser for the entire weekend.
As overtime approached, the Grizzlys were rewarded for a hard-nosed play when Dylan Hubbs' shot from the right-wing face-off circle was saved by Wood, but the rebound rolled to captain Bart Moran, who had gained an edge on his defender and jammed the puck in for the eventual game-winning goal.
Fort McMurray was afforded a late power-play in the third period, and pulled Wood for an extra attacker, but couldn't complete a third comeback. In the end, Olds leading scorer Brandon Clowes poke-checked the puck from centre ice all the way down into the empty MOB net to seal the final for the Grizzlys.
The Barons take the next day off before getting ready for a four-game homestand over the next two weekends. It starts on Friday at the Casman Centre when the Calgary Mustangs come to town.
“For us, it's just a matter of letting those young guys mature,” Keca said. “They're obviously getting a lot more minutes than what we had planned on, with all the injuries, but it's an opportunity for them to get better and maybe develop a little bit quicker than what we wanted, and when we do have a full lineup, hopefully, if that does happen, we'll be a lot better off.”
Puck drop Friday night is 8pm with pre-game coverage starting at 7:45 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
1. Bart Moran (1 game-winning goal)
2. Danny Gayle (1 goal)
3. Ethan Jemieff (47 saves on 49 shots)