For just the second time this season the Fort McMurray Oil Barons find themselves on a losing streak.
The MOB (18-4-2) battled back from a 3-1 deficit late in the third period against the Lloydminster Bobcats (7-16-1) Friday to force overtime but fell 4-3 after Cole Johnson scored on a two-on-one.
“We’re in a little bit of a funk right now and I think that emotionally it’s a fragile group so for us to battle back and at least get a point, hopefully that’s something that we can build on,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca.
The MOB came into the game after their worst loss of the season, a 7-2 drubbing against the Spruce Grove Saints Thursday night. On the other side, the Bobcats entered the game after their most complete effort of the year in a 5-1 win over Grande Prairie last weekend.
The Oil Barons fired 12 shots at the Bobcats Nick Sanders in the first period but were unable to beat the former WHL netminder.
Lloydminster would open the scoring on a powerplay on a quick give and go between Cole Johnson and Kobe Walker at the 8:59 mark. Walker roofed a shot past Chris Curr for his team leading 10th of the year.
Johnson added to the Bobcats lead at 14:48 of the second period when he tapped home a loose puck in the crease to make it 2-0.
The Oil Barons got some sustained pressure late in the period and were able to capitalize when Will Conley banged in a Shane Fraser rebound to cut the lead in half. The goal was Conley’s 19th of the season and 50th of his AJHL career.
But before the period was out, Walker added his second goal of the game off a rebound to put the Bobcats up 3-1 with 18 seconds left in the period.
“We have to do a better job of picking up sticks – it’s very tough for an opponent to score when you’ve tied up their stick and we have to do a better job,” said Keca.
The Oil Barons weren’t able to generate much offence in the third period and Sanders was kicking out everything the MOB threw his way. The MOB had one final push, pulling Curr with two minutes left on the clock.
The MOB cycled the puck and worked it to the front of the net where Fraser knocked in his 6th of the year to put the MOB down one with 1:39 left. Conley and Reed Morison drew the assists on the goal.
The Bobcats got back on their heels as the MOB kept pressing and with 21 seconds left, Conley ripped a shot into the top corner off a great feed from Owen Reith to tie the game.
“We told our players not to panic and use the full ice surface and not throw any pucks blindly which we have a tendency sometimes to do and when you’ve got skill like we should have, there’s going to be lanes that open up,” said Keca of his team’s two goals with the goalie pulled.
The teams traded chances in the overtime period and the Bobcats took advantage of a two-on-one when Brayden Jenkins found Johnson headed to the goal and he muscled a shot through the legs of Curr to give the Bobcats back to back wins for the first time this season.
Next up for the MOB: the Barons will finish their road trip in Bonnyville Saturday night against the Pontiacs. Pre-Game show begins at 7:15 p.m. with Taylor Pope on Country 93.3.
Will Conley leads the team with 20 goals and 26 points through 24 games this season. Conley’s three point night led the 19 year old to hit two milestones in his AJHL career. The first was his 50th career goal and on his second goal of the game he registered his 100th career point. Trevor Schroder returned to the MOB lineup after missing 16 games with a shoulder injury. The injury bug continues to hit the MOB as defenceman Lucas Yovetich and Domenico Argento left the game in the second period and did not return.
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photo by: Dan Lines, Fort McMurray Oil Barons