Oil Barons end regular season with loss to Bobcats

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons finished off their regular season schedule with a 3-2 loss to the Lloydminster Bobcats Saturday night in Lloydminster.

“I thought we played well, actually,” said Oil Barons head coach and general manager Gord Thibodeau. “We weren't prepared. The first three or four minutes our defence were very, very lackadaisical. We gave them two gift goals and any time you do that to a hard working team, they are going to make it difficult to come back and that's what they did. But I'm pleased with the way we played and pleased with the way we created.”

Lloydminster got out of the gate a lot quicker than the Oil Barons, with Braden Crone scoring an unassisted goal 33 seconds into the game. Crone also set up a powerplay goal by Taylor Mulder four minutes into the opening frame. Two minutes and 15 seconds later defenceman Louis-Joseph Sawyer was able to beat Bobcats goalie Christopher Tai with a wrister to get the MOB on the board. 2-1 was the score after 20 minutes of play.

The Bobcats also scored early in the second period, with Tanner Dunkle restoring the Bobcats two goal lead at 4:06 of the middle frame. There was a scary moment near the end of the second, where Danton Ayotte got hit hard into the boards and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher. Thibodeau said Ayotte will likely miss the first round of the playoffs with a neck sprain and a possible concussion.

Ryan Bloom, who was the overtime hero on Friday night, put the Barons within one less than 90 seconds into the third period. The Barons pulled goaltender Jesse Gordichuk with just over a minute to go, but the MOB were unable to find the equalizer and 3-2 would be the final score.

Thibodeau said the powerplay will be something the team will have to work on before the playoffs start. The Barons were 0-for-11 on the man advantage in their two game set with the Bobcats this weekend.

“Our compete level on our powerplay right now is not very good,” said Thibodeau. “That's from our forwards and our D. If the penalty kill is outworking you on the powerplay, usually you're going to have trouble scoring and plain and simple that's what happening with our powerplay right now.”

With the loss, the MOB finish the regular season with a record of 45-11-4.

The Oil Barons will take the second seed in the AJHL North Division playoffs and will play the Drayton Valley Thunder in the first round, starting on Thursday night.