The Fort McMurray Oil Barons scored early and often in their home opener as they trounced the Lloydminster Bobcats 7-1 at the Casman Centre Friday night.
Sporting their new retro third jerseys, the MOB gave the announced crowd of 1,666 lots to cheer about as they improved to 3-0-0 in the young AJHL season.
The Barons opened up a 3-0 lead after the first period, outshooting the Bobcats 14-8.
Ryan Cox would fire a shot over the left shoulder of Reese Jones 5:26 into the game to give the MOB the 1-0 lead. The goal was Cox’s second of the season.
The Barons continued to bring the pressure early on, feeding off a loud home crowd. Taner Miller would send a low point shot towards the Bobcats goal that was deflected in front by rookie Tyler Petrie and through the legs of Jones for his first career AJHL goal.
The MOB would add another before the period was out when Will Conley found Jake Berry at the right point. Berry skated in and fired a shot on goal. The rebound lay in the crease where captain Shane Fraser out-muscled the Bobcats defenceman to tap in his first of the year.
“There were definitely parts of today that I enjoyed, I thought that we were very good in the first period and then after that I thought that we just kind of went to sleep,” said MOB head coach Tom Keca.
The tides certainley swung in the second period with the Bobcats generating the better scoring chances and outshooting the MOB 10-6 in the frame. Bobcats forward Cole Johnson tried to spark his bench early in the second period when he dropped the gloves with Liam Izyk. The MOB assistant captain scored the take down and racked up his second fighting major in the first three games.
The Barons would extend their lead to 4-0 while on the penalty kill. Jones came out to play the puck and sent it up around the boards where it landed on the tape of Conley’s stick. The 20 year old fired a shot into the open cage for his third of the season. That goal would chase Jones as he was replaced by Reece Klassen.
On the same powerplay the Bobcats would get on the board after Brady Barclay was stopped by Eric Szudor, the rebound sat in the crease and it was Reid Irwin who chipped it in.
The game remained 4-1 until the 13:34 mark of the third period when the MOB exploded for three goals in a 4:11 span. Jake Berry snapped home his first career goal as he snuck in off the left point and received a pass from Nicholas Leeseberg before snapping a shot past Klassen.
“We feel that we have a defensive core as a six man unit that can distribute the puck and then join the rush,” said Keca. “I don’t want necessarily our defencemen carrying the puck through the neutral zone, I want them to move it to our forwards, if we can crash the net hard, we’re going to create some open ice in behind that first wave.”
Fraser tapped in another rebound off a Berry shot two minutes later before Jack Hamly rounded out the scoring on a two on one down low off a great feed from Leeseberg.
Despite the lopsided win, the Barons struggled at times on the man advantage, including a five minute powerplay in the third period where they were able to muster a mere two shots on goal.
“I’m disappointed in the fact that for a team that has as much skill as we do that we were enemic on the powerplay,” said Keca whose team went 0-6 on the powerplay. “It just goes to show you that you can have all the skill in the world but if you’re not willing to work hard and get to pucks it’s not going to do you any good.”
The Barons and Bobcats will meet again Saturday night at the Casman Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“At the end of the day it’s a 7-1 win, we’ll protect today’s effort with a good effort tomorrow but we have to get better,” said Keca.
AUDIO: Coach Keca recaps the game on the Country 93.3 post game show with Taylor Pope.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.