Reed Morison sent over 1,800 fans into a frenzy after scoring the overtime winner to give the Fort McMurray Oil Barons a 3-2 win in their home opener against the visiting Grande Prairie Storm Friday night at the Casman Centre.
Morison stripped Tyrell Boucher at the MOB blueline and with a quick head fake, pulled the puck to his backhand and placed a shot into the top right corner past Storm goalie Ethan Slobodzian.
“You get a chance in overtime and you have to bury your opportunities and Reed does that. I mean as soon as he got the puck, there’s probably an 80 percent chance he was going to score and hopefully the fans were entertained, it was an electric atmosphere which we really appreciate,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca.
A much younger Oil Barons team than in the previous two years showed signs of a young learning squad but the seasoned veterans on the roster came through when the club needed. The MOB weathered the Storm early as Grande Prairie came out firing on all cylinders, outshooting the Barons 10-1 in the opening nine minutes of the game.
A powerplay for the Barons would change the tune and settle down the home side. From the right circle, Morison snapped a shot on goal, the rebound popped right to Fort McMurrayite Kole Gable who buried his first goal as a Baron in front of a large crowd of family and friends.
“Anytime that you can have a local player that’s played at a higher level come back it’s a bonus. We saw that a couple years ago with Brandon Ralph and Kole’s going to play a huge role in the dressing room, on the bench, he’s telling the guys to communicate and he gets that instant respect from his peers and his teammates and even us as coaches,” said Keca.
The Storm responded 47 seconds later as a bad pinch led to a two-on-one where Ethan Strang fed Bryce Osepchuck to tie the game 1-1 after 20 minutes.
The Barons regained the lead 3:41 into the second period when newly named captain Taner Miller threw a puck on goal that was dug loose by Gable. The puck came out to Liam Izyk in the slot who fired a shot past Slobodzian.
The Storm would keep coming and capitalized on a powerplay of their own just past the mid-way point of the frame when Cruz Cote beat a sprawled Chris Curr to to again tie the game 2-2.
The third period saw the Storm dominate, outshooting the MOB 16-5 but the star of the show was Oil Barons netminder Chis Curr. A finalist for the AJHL Rookie of the Year last season, Curr looked to be in mid-season form when he absolutely robbed Jared Power who looked to have a wide open goal after a cross ice pass from Zachary Okabe.
“Curr does what he does. He’s the ultimate professional, he goes about his business and we wouldn’t expect any different. He doesn’t want any accolades or anything like that, he just wants an opportunity to play. He did a great job today and he gives you every opportunity to win each game,” said Keca of Curr who made 41 saves in his season debut.
The MOB and Storm are right back at it Saturday night at the Casman Centre, puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.
“Very happy with the effort that we got,” said Keca. “We know that it’s only game one but we’re trying to build a foundation for us to have success later on in the year…it’s about the process and the way we’re playing the game.”
Prior to the game the MOB held a special moment for the Humboldt Broncos and for the family of Parker Tobin who lost his life in the bus crash. Tobin’s grandfathers were presented with a bench made entirely out of hockey sticks that will sit in the Casman Centre lobby this weekend. A banner will also be hung in the Casman Centre that reads “We play for them” as all 133 CJHL teams honour the Broncos.
The MOB also named their leadership group this week. Fourth year defenceman Taner Miller was named captain while Liam Izyk, Reed Morison, Kole Gable and Ryan Conroy were named the assistants.
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photo by: Dan Lines