The Fort McMurray Oil Barons put forth a dominate effort Thursday night at the Casman Centre as the MOB thumped the visiting Bonnyville Pontiacs 8-2.
Captain Shane Fraser recorded his second hat-trick of the season while defenceman Curtis Roach had a four point night to lead the way.
The two teams were meeting for the third time in ten days with each team winning a game by a 3-2 score. The teams remained dead-locked at 0-0 after the opening period with both goaltenders coming up with big saves while on the penalty kill. Justin Travis was making his ninth straight start for the Pontiacs while Eric Szudor was making his 30th start of the season for the MOB.
In the second period, the floodgates opened for the Oil Barons (34-10-3). Merritt Oszytko spotted Will Conley flying down the right wing and hit him in full flight with a cross-ice pass. Conley streaked in and ripped a shot top corner 1:49 into the period to open the scoring with his 35th goal of the year.
“Will is just such a dynamic player and that first goal there they just lost track of him and him coming down the wing and to snipe short side is a textbook Will type of goal,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca of Conley who record his 9th two goal game of the season. “We’re trying to get chemistry on all our lines, they’ve been together for a while and him and Fraser have been together all year and you’re trying to put the right guy on the left side, somebody that will complement Shane’s work ethic and Will’s speed and Oszytko has done a great job there.”
Oszytko would pick up an assist on the first three goals and now has 12 points in his past ten games. The Fraser, Conley, Oszytko line combined for five goals and nine points in the game.
The MOB would strike shorthanded less than three minutes later when Fraser tapped in a Curtis Roach fed on a two-on-one. The goal was the captain’s 4th shorthanded goal of the year and the team’s 13th.
A couple late powerplays saw the MOB strike twice in a 39 second span in the final minute of the period. Fraser knocked in a back door pass from Conley before Jarred White ripped a shot off the cross bar and in from the top of the slot for his 4th goal of the season to open up a 4-0 lead.
“When I don’t have to yell from the bench to ‘get there’ and it’s just a mindset, that’s when we know we’ve done our job as coaches. We talk about every puck being a live puck and what that means is every puck we can potentially make a play on, we might not get there first but finish your check, move the puck, move your feet, create space for somebody and I think we have the potential to be a very good hockey team,” said Keca.
The offence continued to roll in the third period as Fraser completed the hat-trick 6:04 in off a wrap around feed from Gunner Kinniburgh. The three goal night was the captain’s second hat-trick of the season and he now has a career high 18 goals.
“He gives you everything that he possibly can,” said Keca of Fraser who became the 5th Oil Baron player to hit 40 points on the year. “He’s worked so hard on his skating, he’s worked on his face-offs, he does everything for us and he’s the ultimate captain. I think he learned a lot last year from Brandon Ralph and I don’t think we missed a beat naming him our captain this year. He’s the heart and soul of our team and when he plays well, everyone else follows.”
The teams would trade five goals in a 2:13 span later in the period beginning with Conley’s second of the night. A wrist shot from the left point that fooled Dario Latessa who came in relief of Travis to start the third period. With the MOB leading 6-0, the Pontiacs notched two goals in quick succession from Mitchell Verenka and Adam Panacci.
The MOB would get those goals back in a hurry when Roach walked in from the right point and slipped home his 5th of the year. Then it was Coy Prevost coming down his off wing and snapping a shot under the arm of Latessa for his first goal as an Oil Baron to make it 8-2. Prevost threw the monkey off his back in celebration after notching his 1st goal in five games with the MOB after being acquired from the Canmore Eagles.
“I think that he has that potential where once he gets one goal, now they’re going to come in bunches. He’s been a consistent point producer in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, he plays hard and he’s brought a lot more to our team than what even I imagined when we made the acquisition,” said Keca of Prevost who has been playing centre of late instead of his usual left wing position.
The MOB took the season series 5-1-0 over the Pontiacs and could potentially meet them in the first round of the playoffs if the standings stay the way they are. The MOB continue a busy month of February this weekend when they welcome the Grande Prairie Storm to the Casman Centre for a pair of game’s. Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.
Saturday’s game the MOB will be helping raise money for the Fort McMurray Soup Kitchen during the “Frisbees For Food” event. Fans can purchase a frisbee for $20 or 3 for $40. Fans can also make a pledge for each Oil Barons goal, by texting TJ Campbell at 780-972-3924.
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