Perhaps the toughest part of this rebuild for the Oil Barons and their fans isn’t simply the mounting number of losses, it’s likely the fact that most games they’re in it right until the end. They’ll show flashes of brilliance that can last for as little as a shift to as long as half the game. That was the case Friday night in Drayton Valley as the MOB blew a 2-0 lead in the second period to eventually fall 4-3 in extra time.
“I loved our start, thought that we were really good, played very simple had a lot of shots and then a four minute power-play there in the first period which sort of inflated their shot total but I thought that we did a great job,” said Oil Barons Head Coach Tom Keca on the ROCK 97.9 post-game show.
How It Happened
Brett Edwards snapped an 18-game goal scoring drought just 4:02 into the first frame opening the scoring. McMurrayite Quinton Sudom picked up his first AJHL point with an assist.
The Oil Barons would extend the lead early in the second as Shawn Weber tied Will Conley and Ben Sharf for the team lead in goals with ten on the season sniping one past Matt Berlin 3:38 into the middle frame.
Minutes later Jordan Steenbergen took a boarding call and that’s when the wheels fell off.
“We were good for about the first seven or eight minutes of the second period […] we get caught running around and I think the biggest thing is when you watch this game in our d-zone you just see our youth we just start running around and there’s not a lot of communication.”
Brayden Harris marked on the power-play, under a minute later at 8:22 the Thunder had tied the game thanks to a Matt McNeil goal.
In the third the two squads would trade goals to make it even at three apiece going into overtime. Damon Porter scored for McMurray while Brayden Harris notched his second of the game for Drayton Valley.
Jason Miller notched the extra-time winner for Drayton Valley on the backhand at 2:06.
The Future Looks Bright
The MOB’s three affiliates were once again strong contributors, Quinton Sudom and Jayden Pannu both played their second AJHL games, while MacKenzie Mindus played his fifth.
“I thought they were great, [Sudom]did get an assist on [Edwards’] goal [Sudom] and [Mindus] are 98’s which is good and Jayden [Pannu] is a ’99 so he’s a year younger and I thought his composure on the back-end was great. He’s a guy that we have carded for next year and hopefully we can convince him that he wants to move away from home and play junior hockey,” said Keca.
To say that both teams have struggled on the power-play would be an understatement Drayton Valley is second worst in the AJHL on the man-advantage, better only than the Oil Barons.
“I almost wanted to decline the last power-play, throw too many men on the ice,” said Keca on the power-play struggles. “It’s just the willingness to compete if you’re not going to win the face-off you need to hound the puck.”
The Oil Barons failed to register a shot on goal in three power-play opportunities; the Thunder scored a goal on five chances.
Forbes Ploszaj was great again making 41 of 45 saves, Matt Berlin wasn’t tested nearly as much turning aside 22 of 25 shots thrown his way.
Nothing Better Than Redemption
The two teams will meet again Saturday night with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 at the Drayton Valley Omniplex.
“We got a point [Friday] and if we can get a win [Saturday], now all of a sudden we leave Drayton Valley with three points,” said Keca. “We’ll do a video session, we’ll be ready and we’ll be better.”
With a Grande Prairie’s 5-1 loss to Canmore Friday the Oil Barons are now tied in points at 21 with their northern cousins, although the Storm hold onto the final playoff position with two games in hand.
You can listen to the game live on ROCK 97.9 starting with the pre-game show at 7:15 p.m.
Article courtesy of mymcmurray.com.
Photo taken on October 31, 2015 in Fort McMurray by Dan Lines.