The goal light was shining bright at Revolution Place Sunday afternoon as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Grande Prairie Storm traded goals at a frantic pace.
The MOB outlasted the Storm 6-5, led by a five goal first period and a hat-trick from Reed Morison.
“What this game really demonstrated was that we have a lot of work to do in our own zone,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the pay of his team. “I told the players after the first period, we can’t have players who only play 100 feet from the redline in. We need 200 foot players who play at both ends of the ice.”
The Storm would open the scoring when Michael Clarke out battled the MOB defenceman in front of the goal and beat Eric Szudor low on the glove side. Clarke led the Storm in points last season with 62.
The Barons tied the game at 1-1 five seconds into their first powerplay. An offensive zone face-off win went straight to Curtis Roach who walked in and ripped a shot past Charles-Olivier Levesque.
Reed Morison would give the Barons the lead 6:41 into the first when he used Ryan Cox as a decoy on a two on one and fired a shot up over the shoulder on the short side of Levesque.
The MOB would add to their lead 29 seconds later when Will Conley pounced on a loose puck after Levesque failed to cover it in his crease. Conley poked the puck over the goal line to put the MOB up 3-1.
The Storm’s top line of Edouard Michaud, Justin Bernier and Zach Okabe continued to put pressure on the MOB defence and finally broke through mid-way through the period when Michaud snapped a shot past Szudor for his first career AJHL goal.
Morison would put the MOB back up by two after his shot squeaked through the arm of Levesque. Cox worked the puck to Liam Izyk who found Morison in the low slot.
“He had about four or five other great scoring opportunities so you like that from a coaching point of view where you like to think that line is gaining a bit of chemistry. (Ryan) Cox is a very offensively gifted player as well and Liam (Izyk) will be our workhorse on that line,” said Keca.
The Storm wouldn’t quick and again cut the lead to one when the puck fell to Connor Blake at the side of the goal and he buried it into a gapping cage.
However, the Barons were able to again quickly respond. Twenty-three seconds later, Owen Reith broke down the left wing and slid the puck to Conley who had a tap in for his second goal of the period to put the MOB up 5-3 after the opening 20 minutes.
“Will was outstanding today, every time he gets the puck you have to move to the edge of your seat because something is going to happen with that speed,” said Keca of Conley. “He’s showing that he’s going to be a physical force this year, he likes to take the puck to the net, he’s secured a scholarship which is good for him for all the work he’s put into it now and as a coaching staff now we have to make sure that we fine tune his game so that he’s ready to step in and play a big role next year.”
The goals continued in the second period when Michaud scored his second of the game 49 seconds into the frame to put the Storm down 5-4.
Morison would complete the hat-trick when Trevor Schroder found him at the side of the goal and he beat Levesque with a quick wrist shot.
Bernier put the Storm down by one goal again on an odd man rush as the veteran forward kept the puck and beat Szudor on the far side.
The Storm put on a late push for a second straight night but were unable to find the equalizer as the MOB skated away with a full four points on the opening weekend of the AJHL season.
“In the last two-three minutes we’ve got guys blocking shots and doing whatever we need to do but we need to sustain that type of effort for a full 60 minutes if we want to be successful this year,” said Keca.
Next up for the MOB will be their home opener as they welcome the Lloydminster Bobcats to the Casman Centre on Friday and Saturday. Puck drop for both games is 7:30 p.m. On Friday their will be a tailgate before the game presented by Sobey’s and Country 93.3.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
AUDIO: Tom Keca recaps the game and weekend on the Country 93.3 post game show with Taylor Pope.