The win streak now stands at eight after the Fort McMurray Oil Barons skated to a 7-4 win Friday night in Sherwood Park.
The attack was once again led by Ryan Cox who had a pair of goals and Jack Hamly who chipped in with a goal and two helpers.
The win didn’t come easy, the MOB (12-2-0) trailed twice in the opening period but battled back and were able to hang on late when the Crusaders cut the lead to one with just over a minute remaining in the third.
“It’s tough because I don’t think it was our best effort, I think that we could’ve been a lot better,” said Head Coach Tom Keca on his team’s performance. “But I did think when we had opportunities, we buried them and that’s a sign of a winning team.”
Tyler Maltby would open the scoring for the Crusaders (6-9-0) midway through the first after slipping behind the MOB defence and tucking a shot past Forbes Ploszaj.
Ryan Cox would even the score at 14:25 when Jack Hamly fed a pass down low, the initial shot was stopped by Zac Klassen before Cox slipped home his sixth of the year.
Maltby would find Ty Readman at the side of the goal 1:21 later to restore the Crusdaers lead quickly but a late powerplay gave the Barons a chance to tie the game heading into the intermission. Hamly fed a wide open Cox in the low slot and he unleashed a howitzer into the top corner past a helpless Klassen. Brandon Ralph picked up the second assist to extend his point streak to five games.
Hamly would give the Barons the lead 1:16 into the second when he flew down the left wing and roofed a backhand under the bar. Hamly is riding an eight game point streak that has seen the 18 year old rack up three goals and 12 points.
The line of Hamly, Cox and Ralph has a combined 38 points during the teams eight game winning streak and have become one of the most dominant lines in the AJHL.
“You just have three special players,” said Keca of the trio. “You’ve got Brandon Ralph who’s a 20 year old that’s been at a higher level and he brings leadership and intelligence and I think the other two guys (Cox & Hamly) are just coming into their own and they’re still only 18 years old. They’re finding their niche and they’re finding what they’re good at.”
Matteo Aiello would double the MOB’s lead on a powerplay at 17:16 when he fired a shot past Klassen from the top of the circle for his fifth of the season.
The Crusaders would chip away at the Barons lead in the third period. First it was Maltby making it 4-3 at 9:06 with his second goal of the game and league leading fifteenth of the year.
“As a defender on a big player you have to understand what are his strengths (physical strength) and what do I possess that can neutralize his strength? That’s maybe a better stick position or forcing him to go the long way and keeping him to the outside,” said Keca of his team trying to control the league’s leading goal scorer.
Will Conley would give the MOB their two goal lead once again when Hayden Ursulak found him coming into the Crusaders zone late. Conley ripped a shot into the top corner and now has goals in back to back games.
The Crusaders pulled Klassen for the extra attacker with over two minutes left in the third and Darcy Zaharichuk tapped home a loose puck to cut the lead to 5-4 with 1:19 remaining.
With Klassen out the rest of the way, Brett Edwards and Shane Fraser hit the empty net to seal the victory and begin the MOB’s three game road trip on the right foot.
Next up for the Barons is a trip to Whitecourt Saturday night to take on the Wolverines (8-4-3). Pre-Game show begins at 7:15 p.m. on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope.
Written by Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photo taken on January 8, 2016 at the Casman Centre by Dan Lines.