The Fort McMurray Oil Barons turned a mid-week trip to Drayton Valley into back to back wins and find themselves back in the win column after three straight home losses last week.
The Barons defeated the Thunder 3-1 Wednesday night and improved their road record to 11-2-0.
For a second straight night the MOB (23-8-1) had some jump in their step in the opening frame.
Will Conley opened the scoring with his 12th goal of the year at 8:35 of the first period. Hayden Ursulak spotted Conley out front of the Thunder goal. A quick toe drag around Parker Tobin and Conley put the puck under the crossbar to give the MOB a 1-0 lead.
The Barons continued to attack the Thunder with their speed and off the rush, found the back of the net for a second time in the period. Matteo Aiello raced down the right wing and fed Brandon Ralph who was streaking down the middle. Ralph wristed a shot past the blocker arm of Tobin for his 12th goal of the year to make it 2-0.
“We spread them wide, their defenceman got caught outside the dots and then Ralphy goes down the middle and it was a great play all around,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the goal and made note of the strong play of Matteo Aiello in the game.
The Thunder (7-21-4) would break through in the opening minutes of the second period when Tyler Benko won a faceoff straight back to Matt Benko. Benko sent a seeing eye shot through that beat Josh Williams to cut the MOB’s lead in half.
Williams shut the door the rest of the way stopping 22 shots in picking up his eighth win of the year. Tobin gave the Thunder a chance making 36 saves in a losing effort.
Jackson McKinstry would add an insurance goal late in the third period as he ripped a shot off the left goal post that bounced off the back of Tobin and in.The goal was his third of the year and first since returning from an injury that kept him out of 21 games.
“He wins key draws for us, kills penalties and does all the little things so for him to get rewarded is great,” said Keca on the veteran forward.
The MOB return home for an exhibition game Friday night at the Casman Centre. The Barons will take on the Czech Republic World Junior A Challenge select team. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. and tickets are still available.
“It’s going to be a great test for us and it;ll be an eye opening experience for a lot of our guys,” said Keca about facing the Czech team. “I spent some time in Europe so you sort of know what the games about. It’s a lot more east-west and drop passes, attack with speed where in Canada we’re more straight lines, bang and crash.”
Forward Ryan Cox was named to Team Canada West for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge. Cox will be the fourth Oil Baron to play in the tournament joining Mitchell Vanderlaan, Colton Parayko and Carson Cooper. Jack Hamly and Eric Szudor attended the selection camp but did not make the 22 man roster.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines