Story Coming In:
It’s the final two games of Fort McMurray’s pre-Christmas schedule. The Oil Barons enter the road trip seven games below .500, sitting in 13th place in the AJHL standings. Having lost back to back games against Olds, the Oil Barons look for redemption and a pair of wins to wrap up this portion of the schedule. Consistency is what Fort McMurray is trying to achieve. While the offense has started to find that spark (having put up three or more goals in five of their last seven games), the defense is now trying to step up (having surrendered three or more goals during that same time frame). Ryan Arnold is leading the charge offensively for the Oil Barons as of late. Riding a four game point streak, and having points in five of his last six games, the Spruce Grove product looks for more of the same heading into the break. Keefe Gruener is also on a three game point streak of his own, as the captain leads by example with a team best 21 points.
View From Drayton Valley & Whitecourt:
It’s the final meeting of the season between Drayton Valley and Fort McMurray. The Thunder claimed the first three meetings of the year, thanks to timely goals from their top players and excellent goaltending. However, Drayton Valley doesn’t have their all-star netminder to lean on anymore, as Chazz Nixon departed for Nanaimo of the BCHL. Since his departure, Drayton Valley has gone 0-2, being outscored 13-4 during that stretch. Sitting three points above the playoff line, the Thunder will look towards Adam Grenier and Ryan Neumann to lead the team back to the postseason, as both players are currently scoring at a point a game pace. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have quietly been a team on the rise in the AJHL. Since November, Whitecourt has gone 10-3-3, climbing into a tie for 5th place in the standings. The Wolverines won’t outscore many teams, however, they possess one of the best defenses in the league having only given up 95 goals, the second fewest in the AJHL. Leading the charge is goaltender Ben Charette, who recently announced his commitment to Harvard University. The Aurora, Ontario product leads in the league in save percentage, while having the third most wins among goaltenders.
Stats Leaders For Fort McMurray:
Goals: Gaul (13)
Assists: Evan Arnold & Ringor (13)
Points: Gruener (21)
PIM: Hoogendoorn (53)
Goalies: Nelson: 5-6-0-2, 3.44 GAA, 0.918%, 1 SO
Gratton: 6-12-2-1, 3.54 GAA, 0.904%