The Fort McMurray Oil Barons kept up with the eleventh best Junior ‘A’ team in Canada, but in the end the difference was a sizzling Whitecourt power-play as the Wolverines knocked off the MOB 5-4 Monday night at the Scott Safety Centre.
Eric Krienke and Hubert Delisle both had power-play goals, Delisle would add the game winner with just 4:58 to go in the third period.
“You have to work harder on your [penalty kill] we talk about playing a diamond or a box you have to go out hard, back hard and have your sticks in proper lanes because they’re smart enough where if their first option is taken away they can recognize a second or third option,” said Oil Barons Head Coach Tom Keca on the ROCK 97.9 post-game show as his club allowed two power-play goals on four opportunities.
Krienke’s goal opened the scoring, Jackson McKinstry tied the game for just a few moments as 90 seconds after his tenth of the year 6:55 into the middle frame Joseph Nardi scored the first of three straight Wolverines goals.
Whitecourt also saw Delisle’s power-play goal and a late marker by Eliott Peterson during that stretch. Peterson, a former Calgary Hitmen notched his goal with just 28 seconds left giving his club a 4-1 lead. But 17 seconds later Brett Edwards used his speed to burn away on a breakaway and snap a shot past Tanner McCorriston to draw the MOB back within a pair.
Edwards would bang home a shot from the high slot just 1:46 into the following period, then Shane Fraser scored his first goal since Nov. 6 to tie the game at four aside about five minutes into the third.
The game would remain tied until Delisle’s late winner.
Fort McMurray outshot Whitecourt 17-13 in the second period and finished just a shot on goal behind through 60 minutes as the Wolverines fired 35 pucks on net compared to the 34 for the MOB.
Forbes Ploszaj made thirty saves on thirty five shots, while Tanner McCorriston turned aside thirty of thirty-four drives.
The game was a showcase to a potential first round playoff matchup as the Oil Barons will take on the second seed in the north division, that spot is currently occupied by Whitecourt.
“We’re not going to focus on the fact that we’re a seventh place team, we’re going to look at the fact that when the post-season starts everybody is zero and zero then it’s a race to three,” said Keca. “I definitely think that we’ve got some things that we can build on today we’re obviously going to have to change some things and if our guys are committed to giving the effort that we got today we should be okay.”
The Oil Barons lost 16-year-old defenceman Marcus Kichton to a hit to the head from Dawson Bruneski with about five minutes to go in the opening period. The rookie blue-liner will be held out of the lineup this weekend and the Oil Barons are unsure if he’ll be able to return for the opening round of the playoffs.
The AJHL suspended Bruneski for two games on Monday afternoon.
Monday’s game was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. but was delayed to Monday evening due to unsafe ice conditions.
Fort McMurray will host the Grande Prairie Storm to close out the regular season this weekend.
Article courtesy of mymcmurray.com.
Photo taken on November 20, 2015 by Dan Lines at the Casman Centre.