With their season on the line, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons put forth a gutsy effort in Game 5 of their North Division semi-final as they knocked off the Sherwood Park Crusaders 3-2 in overtime to force a Game 6 on Sunday back in Fort McMurray.
Down three games to one in the series, the Oil Barons had to battle through a lot of adversity Friday night at the Sherwood Park Arena to pick up a much deserved win.
At times, it seemed the MOB were battling the Crusaders and the men in stripes on the ice. The Oil Barons had four penalties handed to them in the opening 12 minutes of the hockey game and nine in total compared to the Crusaders three in the game.
“Talked to the boys after the game and you’re so proud of them because they were resilient. You could’ve easily have gotten caught up on what was transpiring through the course of the game but we didn’t,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca.
The Crusaders peppered Chris Curr who made save after save as he kicked out 16 Crusader shots in the frame and kept the MOB in the game.
“You’re best penalty killer has to be your goaltender and I thought Chris Curr was simply outstanding,” said Keca on Curr who made 45 saves and faced 40 plus shots for the third time in the series.
The Barons rode the momentum of the penalty kills and capitalized on their lone odd-man rush of the period. Reed Morison sprung Kole Gable down the left wing and the Fort McMurrayite snapped a shot past the glove of Matt Berlin for his first goal of the series and 5th of the playoffs.
Morison would help set up the second Barons goal when his initial shot was stopped by Berlin on a two-on-one rush with Liam Izyk. Izyk stuck with the play and was able to jam the puck across the goal line to give the Oil Barons a 2-0 lead.
“We needed more from our 20 year olds and three 20 year olds scored goals for us and that was crucial for us,” said Keca of his veterans who have meant so much to this team this season. “We’ve got a group of six individuals and they just make our organization better and we’re better for it in Fort McMurray and our younger players are going to appreciate everything that those guys have done for them.”
The Oil Barons were handed anther set of penalties late in the second period and the Crusaders would finally strike on a five-on-three powerplay when Zach Kaiser knocked in a rebound.
The MOB would be put down two men again early in the third period for nearly a full two minutes and they were able to shut down the AJHL’s number two ranked powerplay once again. The Oil Barons who were the third least penalized team in the regular season killed off eight of nine Crusader powerplays.
Curr stood on his head once again in the third period as the Crusaders outshot the MOB 15-3 in the period and 47-20 in the game. The only way the Crusaders could beat him was on a bank shot off a skate when Reid Irwin’s pass deflected past Curr with 4:00 remaining.
The two teams headed to overtime for a second time in the series and the extra frame was short lived once again. Garrett Clegg was called for slashing 2:43 into overtime when he gave Chad MacLean a chop to put the MOB on the powerplay.
The Oil Barons only needed one shot and it was from their captain Taner Miller. His wrist shot from the right point handcuffed Berlin and snuck through to keep the Barons season alive.
“We always tell our guys, just get it by that first wave and let our forwards battle down low. Love the fact we had good puck movement on that powerplay but really we don’t care how they go in, just as long as they go in,” said Keca on the overtime winner. The Oil Barons are now 2-1 in overtime in the playoffs.
Game 6 of the series will be Sunday night at the Casman Centre with the Crusaders now leading the best-of-seven series 3 games to 2. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“We’ll have a good video session, we’ll rest up and we’ll be ready for Sunday.”
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 post-game show.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
Photo by: Dan Lines