Will Conley opened the scoring just 28 seconds in but that would be the only goal on the night for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons as they fell 2-1 in overtime to the Drayton Valley Thunder at the Casman Centre Tuesday night.
“We battled hard, our first period was great, and we gave up four shots. They didn’t get any chances, pucks were coming to the net but we were boxing everybody out,” said Oil Barons Assistant Coach Mike Brodeur on the ROCK 97.9 post-game show. “Rolling three lines it kept everybody going and it kept everybody in the game.”
The Oil Barons were short-handed thanks to injury and were forced to play with just nine forwards and five defenceman including 17-year-old call-up Benjamin Orde on the blue-line.
Matt McNeil scored both goals for the Thunder, the first on the power-play beat Szudor short side from the left dot. Then in overtime McNeil snapped his 20th of the season under Szudor’s arm as the puck barely trickled past the goal line.
While the Oil Barons picked up their league leading ninth overtime loss, the extra point provided them with at least one in each of their last five games, their longest streak of the season and eight of ten possible points through the last five matches.
“Now it’s trying to put 60 minutes together because I still thought tonight we had 12-13 minutes where we sat back and we let them play in our zone so if we can find that extra twelve minutes then we’re going to be real good.”
The Oil Barons outshot Drayton Valley by a 38-28 margin, Eric Szudor made 26 saves on 28 shots faced while Matt Berlin was excellent for the Thunder turning aside 37 of 38 drives.
Conley’s goal was his twelfth of the season tying him with the team lead with Shawn Weber. The 18-year-old from Strathmore was playing with a little bit of fire in his belly Tuesday night as the certainly had the most scoring chances of any player on either team including a shot off the cross-bar late in the second period.
“It seems like when he [Conley] plays his old teammates he’s really got an extra edge he likes to chirp, he gets in the mix a little bit and the throws a little bit of fire and that’s what I like about Will every time he’s on the ice whether it’s in practice, in games, workouts he’s always got a little bit of fire in him,” said Brodeur. “You can’t just play casually you have to have that anger that attitude where you hate the other team.”
With the singular point the Oil Barons now have an eight point lead over the Grande Prairie Storm for the final playoff spot in the north division. The MOB have just eight games remaining on the regular season while the Storm have ten.
Fort McMurray will now look to this weekend as they host the Lloydminster Bobcats for a two-game set at the Casman Centre starting Friday night.
“They’re [Lloydminster] a hard hitting team, they’ve got big bodies, they’ve got a lot of speed, and good goaltending […] it’s going to be a great test for us,” said Brodeur.
The Bobcats are also a potential first round opponent they site three points back of the Whitecourt Wolverines for second place in the north division. With the first place team in each division getting a bye in the opening round the second place team takes on the club in seventh spot where the Oil Barons currently sit.
The MOB will also be wearing special pink jerseys in support of Bo Cooper, the sweaters will be auctioned off with the funds going towards Bo’s cause.
Puck-drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night.
Article courtesy of mymcmurray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines