The Fort McMurray Oil Barons put forth their best effort of the series Tuesday night in Whitecourt as they pulled out a convincing 5-1 win to tie up the North Division Final with the Wolverines at 2-2.
The MOB used four goals from their 20 year old veterans and Will Conley’s team leading 7th of the playoffs to lead them to their biggest win of the season against the Wolverines.
“These are the best kinds of wins because I think really when you look at it, all 20 guys contributed some how whether it was a block shot, whether it was a crucial penalty kill. We got the great goal on the powerplay, Jack (McKinstry) gets his stick on it and he gets two for us today so I just thought when everybody contributes it’s that much sweeter,” said MOB head coach Tom Keca.
The Wolverines used a strong first period to outshoot the Barons 16-8 but it would be the MOB who came out up two goals.
With just over five minutes left in the period, Brandon Ralph skated down the left wing and found Shane Fraser coming down the middle. Fraser took the pass from Ralph and slid the puck over to Toby Shattler who buried his first goal of the playoffs with a shot on the blocker side of Pierce Diamond.
“We have a good rush, it’s a great three on two where Ralph makes a chip play to Fraser who’s streaking down the middle and he finds Shattler who’s apparently a goal scorer now,” said Keca with a laugh.
Shattler would be integral in setting up the MOB’s second goal as the Fort McMurrayite walked out from behind the Wolverines net and threw the puck out front and watched as it deflected off of Ralph and in.
The Barons extended their lead early in the second when Jack Hamly fed Will Conley down his off wing. Ryan Cox headed to the net as Conley slammed on the breaks and looked for the pass, it wasn’t there so Conley picked the top left corner over the shoulder of Diamond for his third goal of the series.
“He stops up on the off wing and he just absolutely rifles it bardown and there was not a lot of room there,” said Keca on Conley’s goal.
The Wolverines got on the board less than two minutes later when Liam Motley one timed a Joesph Nardi pass past Eric Szudor for his first goal of the series.
The Barons would restore their three goal lead 1:40 later when Jackson McKinstry finished off a slick feed from Curtis Roach. The defenceman pinched down the boards and cut in towards the goal, he slid a pass through the crease to an open McKInstry who tapped in his first goal of the playoffs.
McKinstry would notch his second of the period on a late MOB powerplay. McKinstry won the face-off to Brett Edwards. He tipped it back to Roach who fired a shot on goal that was tipped by McKinstry and past Diamond.
“We only had six scoring chances yesterday and we challenged our players that we have to get in front of their goaltender and be willing to play inside their house or their blue paint and I thought that we did that,” said Keca on the three goals scored from a top the crease.
The Wolverines showed no quit in the third period, outshooting the MOB for a third straight period but every chance they got was foiled by either a blocked shot or the stellar play of Eric Szudor. Szudor stopped 44 of 45 shots while Diamond was pulled after the second period, allowing five goals on 22 shots. Sam-Jaxon Visscher stopped all seven shots faced in the third period.
Game 5 of the series will be Friday night at the Casman Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“The series is far from done, we’ve got a best out of three with two games at home. We told our players that we had to win one game in his building so we took advantage of it today but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t hold court on Friday night,” said Keca.
The Barons will be without defenceman Taner Miller for the foreseeable future. Miller suffered an upper body injury in Game 3 after taking a hit early in the third period.
Defenceman JC Thivierge left Tuesday’s game after blocking a shot in the second period and did not return.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photogrpaher: Dan Lines