For the second night in a row the Fort McMurray Oil Barons dominated the physical side of the game and came away with a huge two points over their division rival the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
Coming off a 3-1 win Saturday night at the Casman Centre over the Camrose Kodiaks, the MOB used two third period goals to defeat the Pontiacs 2-1 Sunday afternoon.
“I thought that was our best effort/performance in a very long time,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the win. “I just thought that our guys skated, we were physical, we were tough. This was your typical playoff preview.”
The Pontaics were looking to sweep all three games at the Casman Centre this year having won the previous two and three of four in the season series. The Oil Barons however, had other plans as they entered the game winners of three straight, outscoring their opponents 17-5 in the process.
For the first two periods the teams remained deadlocked at 0-0 as neither team was able to break through. The game was highlighted by a first period save from Eric Szudor. With the Pontiacs racing down into the Barons zone, a cross ice pass found Ryan Symington, the Pontiac captain had what looked to be the entire net to shoot at until Szudor slid across and robbed Symington with the knob of his stick making the save of the year.
“It’s a testament to Szudor, comes up big when he needs to. He didn’t have to make a ton of great saves today but the couple that we needed he made and that just breeds confidence,” said Keca on Szudor who has now won his last three starts.
Similar to the previous night, the physical play was in full effect. Toby Shattler absolutely steam rolled Erik Donald behind the Pontiac goal and Jarred White was a pest all afternoon getting under his opponents skin.
With the Barons frustrating the Yaks, the parade to the penalty box began. Early in the third period, the MOB used a new look powerplay and moved the puck around the outside of the Pontiac box. Ryan Cox and Taner Miller passed the puck back and forth until they got Pontiac goalie Sandro Silvestre to bite and a stickless Ryan Piche was caught out of position to allow Miller to snap a shot into the back of the net to open the scoring.
The goal was Miller’s sixth of the year and first in 15 games.
“For him to get rewarded today on a different look powerplay that we’ve been working on it was really good and the powerplay that we showed today is one that you have to be patient. It’s not a powerplay where you score in the first 10 seconds, you want to wear a team down,” said Keca.
The MOB would double their lead at 9:45 on a 5 on 3 powerplay. Shane Fraser won the draw back to JC Thivierge. His shot popped out of the glove of Silvestre right to Cox who batted the puck to Fraser at the side of the goal and he popped home his third goal in four games.
The Pontiacs would get a late goal with the goalie pulled by Derek Brown when he rushed down the left wing and snapped a shot under the pad of Szudor with 35 seconds left. With the loss the Pontiacs have lost three in a row and have fallen to fourth in the North Divison while the Barons now sit one point behind division leading Whitecourt with a game in hand.
“Full credit to our guys after the game that we had last night which was physical to bounce back here on a short turnaround and to come up with that type of effort against a very good Bonnyville team, quite frankly I just thought that we dominated,” said Keca.
The MOB are off until Friday January 13th when they host the Calgary Mustangs at the Casman Centre.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mycmurray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines