After dropping Game 1 in double overtime, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons were looking to salvage a series split at home before heading out on the road for Games 3 and 4 against the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
The MOB came out flying once again, scoring in the game’s first ten minutes but unlike Saturday’s loss, the MOB continued to pour on the pressure scoring five straight and taking Game 2 by a 5-1 final to tie up the series 1-1.
“I thought that the effort was outstanding and the best part about it was it was more consistent than the effort last night,”said MOB head coach Tom Keca.
The Barons knew the importance of Game 2, not wanting to go down 0-2 in the series and they played one of their most complete games over the last month. Dominating in every aspect and being a physical force all over the ice. Several times Pontiac players turned over the puck for fear they were going to get hit through the boards once again.
“The most important thing from a coaching point of view was everyone contributed tonight. Our goaltender was good when he had to be, our defence moved the puck, we engaged when we should have, our forwards did a good job of finishing hits and it was a solid team effort,” said Keca.
The Barons opened the scoring 5:24 into the first period when JC Thivierge sent a low hard shot on net from the right point that beat Sandro Silvestre on the blocker side. Curtis Roach set up the goal, carrying the puck behind the Pontiac goal before spotting an open Thivierge.
The MOB were able to double up their lead before the period was out scoring the series’ first powerplay goal. Matteo Aiello teed up Taner Miller whose blast deflected off Shane Fraser in front and past Silvestre.
The second period saw more from the MOB as it was quickly 3-0 just over three minutes into the frame when Jackson McKinstry won a face-off back to Roach. The defenceman fired a quick shot that beat a screened Silvestre for his first goal of the post-season.
“We told our players when you get the puck be ready, just shoot it and get it through and lets have that net front presence and I thought that we did that a lot better today,” said Keca.
With an already comfortable lead, the captain put the game out of reach scoring two goals in a 3:48 span at the mid-way point of the period. Brandon Ralph’s first came on a delayed penalty. Ralph jumped on as the extra attacker and picked up the puck in the corner before curling out at the top of the circle and ripping a shot into the top left corner.
His second goal was a great individual effort as he split a pair of Pontiacs before squeaking a shot under the arm of Silvestre that trickled across the goal line. The goal chased Silvestre who allowed five goals on 24 shots. Robert Jacobson came into the game and stopped all 12 shots he saw the rest of the way.
The Pontiacs would get on the board with nine seconds left in the period as the MOB got caught up ice allowing Derek Brown room to walk in and snap a shot under the pad of Eric Szudor.
The Barons would then shut the door in the third and Szudor made 30 saves for his first career playoff win.
“You get yourself back in the series and it was a huge win just from a confidence point of view and we’ll see if this can carry on now as we hit the road to Bonnyville,” said Keca.
Game 3 of the series goes Tuesday night from the RJ Lalonde Arena in Bonnyville with Game 4 to follow on Wednesday. You can catch both games on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope beginning with the pre-game show at 7:15 p.m.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmuray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines
AUDIO: Coach Keca on the win and looking forward to games 3 and 4 in Bonnyville.