Two first period goals 19 seconds apart was the start the Fort McMurray Oil Barons needed to help lead them to their seventh win in a row as they downed the Canmore Eagles Friday night 4-2.
Brett Edwards and Shane Fraser scored right at the midway point of the first period to open up a 2-0 lead and the MOB (31-10-1) never looked back.
“I thought that our start was outstanding. We did exactly what we wanted to do which was get them to play as much as we could in their own zone,” said MOB head coach Tom Keca.
After taking all four games on a recent home stand, the MOB traveled south and kicked off a three in three weekend in beautiful Canmore.
Hayden Ursulak would feed Edwards in the slot for the game’s opening goal. Edwards ripped a shot past the glove hand of Eagles goalie Thomas Davis for his 9th of the year.
The red hot line of Brandon Ralph, Shane Fraser and Matteo Aiello then went to work on the next shift. Aiello and Ralph dug the puck loose behind the Eagles goal before feeding Fraser out front who fired home his 11th of the season and sixth goal in his last 7 games.
“That was a combination of a great shift. We hemmed them in, got bodies to turnover pucks and he was in the slot and was the beneficiary of hard work from two other guys,” said Keca of the trio.
The Eagles (22-16-5) would get a big opportunity late in the period when Jack Hamly headed to the penalty box for six minutes after picking up a double minor for spearing and a roughing penalty.
Matt Forchuk and Logan Ferguson entered the game tied for first in league scoring with 60 points apiece. The pair had several chances on the lengthy man advantage but were unable to beat Eric Szudor who turned aside all 16 shots in the period.
“We allowed them to get back in the game by taking stupid penalties. We had a player take a six minute penalty, we had another guy just absolutely no need to slash a guy coming off and now all of a sudden we have to kill,” said Keca about his team’s undisciplined play that gave the Eagles chances to stay in the game.
Mid-way through the second period the Ralph, Fraser, Aiello line again broke down the Eagles defence down low and worked the puck to the front of the net where Ralph tucked in his team leading 18th goal and extended his goal streak to three games. With an assist on the goal, Fraser picked up his 11th point during a seven game point streak.
Canmore would eventually break through with 1:30 left in the 2nd period when 5th year Eagle Kyle Pauls tapped in a Colton Young cross crease pass to cut the lead to 3-1 after two periods.
The Eagles would fire everything they could towards the MOB goal in the third period but the MOB clogged the shooting lanes and didn’t allow the Eagles to get many shots through. The one that did was a seeing eye point shot from Travis Verveda at 13:10 which beat an unsuspecting Szudor.
The MOB held tough late in the game, killing off a penalty with just over two minutes left before Jackson McKinstry sealed the win with six seconds left scoring his fifth goal of the year on the empty net.
The MOB will travel to Okotoks Saturday to take on the Oilers. Pre-game show at 6:45 p.m. on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope.
After being named the Defensive player of the week scoring three goals and five points in two games, JC Thivierge was dealt some rough news. Thivierge will be out for the next 4-6 weeks after having surgery to remove a hernia.
With defenceman Stefan Wood still unavailable, the MOB recalled Cole Clayton from the UFA Bisons Midget AAA team.
Goalie Lane Hartwell also dressed for the MOB as Josh Williams sat out with a lower body injury.
Ryan Cox served his third game of a four game suspension. He is eligible to return Sunday against Olds.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
Photographer: Dan Lines