For the first time during the 2015-2016 season the Fort McMurray Oil Barons have won back-to-back games. Not only have they started a streak of their own that doesn’t have the word ‘losing’ attached to it they handed the Mustangs sole possession of the longest winless streak in AJHL history – 29-games, surpassing the 28-game skid left by The Pass Red Devils in 1974.
The Oil Barons did it with another sixty minute effort in a 4-1 win that started with a bang, Ben Sharf scored his first of two just 64 seconds after puck drop.
“I think more importantly for us the fact that we got two very good efforts back-to-back is even more important and guys are getting rewarded for hard work,” said Oil Barons Head Coach Tom Keca on the ROCK 97.9 post-game show. “The most pleasing thing for us on the bench is you can see the maturity of the players, we’re getting pucks out we’re getting pucks deep.”
Calgary goaltender Felix Martin looked shaky all night battling the puck; he allowed four goals on 33 shots while his adversary Ravi Dattani was excellent, making a number of five-star saves in the first to preserve the one goal lead. Dattani stopped 25 of 26 shots faced.
“He [Dattani] comes as advertised he’s had a phenomenal Junior career and his brightest days are still ahead of him and we’re so fortunate to have him not only as a goaltender but as a person in our dressing room.”
Cole Todd Stays Hot
In the second period Cole Todd notched a goal of his own on a wonderful play. Todd intercepted an errant break-out pass just inside the offensive line, dished to Sharf in the corner and went straight to the net where he was all alone, not a Mustang in sight from Strathmore to Calgary. It was Todd’s second point of the night as he picked up a secondary assist on Sharf’s opening goal.
Todd has been real hot of late with eight points in his last six games as he slowly climbs his way up to the top of the team’s leading point scorers now with 18 in 26 games played.
Goal Filled Third
Hayden Ursulak notched a goal giving the Oil Barons a 3-0 lead 9:35 into the final frame, while Ben Sharf made it 4-1 with 1:01 left following a Davis Sheldon short-handed marker for Calgary about four minutes earlier.
Spirit Building Win
It’s a big win for a very young rebuilding Oil Barons team that will at the very least go home from the Christmas road swing with four of eight possible points and a jolly feeling in their bellies heading into the New Year.
“Huge! Huge! We knew that the pressure was on and they’ve got a losing streak here and we’ve got a young fragile group,” said Keca. “After the game on Saturday at home where I thought that the effort just wasn’t acceptable; we had a little bit of a meeting and we had some guys air some laundry and you know what? Just the attitude around the dressing room is different and this is the type of culture and attitude we want to build on.”
After dealing with the two worst teams in the South Division the Oil Barons will see the level of their competition stiffen as they have a day off Thursday before visiting Canmore Friday, followed by Brooks Saturday.
Canmore sits fourth in the South division with a record of 17-12-4; they disgraced the Oil Barons 8-1 at the Casman Centre in their only meeting this season on Nov. 13.
“They [Canmore] handed us the first real ugly loss of the year in our own building so for me there’s a little bit of redemption there and we want to make sure that we come out and play as hard as we can,” said Keca. “They’re a very skilled team, Andrew Milne has done a fantastic job with them this year so we’re going to have our hands full but I think if we can clog up and not allow them to wheel and deal as much as we did in our building I think that we might have some success.”
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Friday, you can catch the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m. on ROCK 97.9.
Article courtesy of mymcmurray.com.
Photo taken September 26, 2015 at the Casman Centre by Dan Lines.