Fort McMurray walked away with a weekend split at home against the Grande Prairie Storm. Friday saw the Storm come out victorious 4-2, while the Oil Barons responded with a 5-3 Saturday win. Evan Arnold had a four assist weekend, Vincent Lamanna and Noah Heinrich picked up three points, while Anthony Campbell had goals in back to back games.
Friday was the annual Teddy Bear Toss game at Centerfire Place. After a scoreless first period, which saw Gabe Gratton make a couple of excellent saves, Grande Prairie opened the scoring early in the second. Will Harris unleashed a one-timer on the power-play that was deflected by Dylan Thorn, giving the Storm the 1-0 lead. However, on a power-play of their own, the Oil Barons struck back with the teddy bear goal. On a beautiful passing play, Evan Arnold picked out Heinrich wide open in the right face-off circle, and the Provost product made no mistake for his first goal as an Oil Baron. Grande Prairie restored their lead shortly afterwards. On an odd man rush, Harris threw the puck in front of the goal, where Marcello Giorgi slammed home his fourth goal of the season. The Storm extended their lead near the end of the second period, on yet another power-play goal. Giorgi scooped up the puck beside the Oil Barons’ net, and threw a between the legs pass to Matt Corbet, where the Grande Prairie captain made it 3-1. Less than 30 seconds later, Fort McMurray got one goal back. A shot from the blue-line by Ethan Sundar pinballed off a number of legs with it last touching Anthony Campbell for his third goal of the season, and Fort McMurray made it 3-2 after 40 minutes of play. The Oil Barons almost took advantage of a power-play near the start of the third period, but a pair of posts and a stellar stop by Nicolas Jones preserved the Storm lead. Grande Prairie added some insurance in the frame. After a highlight reel save by Gratton on Corbet, the puck skipped into the slot and Dylan Thorn deposited the puck into the wide open net for his second goal of the game, giving Grande Prairie a 4-2 lead, which they carried to the final buzzer.
Grande Prairie came out flying on Saturday. Noah Nelson made a couple of fine saves for the blue and gold before the Storm got the icebreaker. On a 2-on-1, Colin Doherty elected to shoot, snapping the puck over the shoulder of Nelson to make it 1-0. The goal woke up the Oil Barons, who pressed in the first, but they couldn’t find the equalizer before the end of frame. It would only take them 41 seconds to strike in the second period. While shorthanded, Evan Arnold forced a turnover at his own blue-line and scampered into Grande Prairie’s end on a breakaway. His effort was stopped by Jones, but Lamanna followed up the play and threw home the rebound tying the game at 1-1. Fort McMurray then got their first lead of the weekend halfway through the period. Campbell picked up the puck and skated to the blue-line, where he threw a shot that beat a screened Jones, making it 2-1 Oil Barons. Simon Diaz added to the lead 24 seconds later. Receiving a pass from Evan Arnold, Diaz wired home a one-timer from the blue-line for his second goal of the season. However, Grande Prairie fought back before the end of the period. On a power-play, Corbet drove to the front of the net, and after his initial shot was stopped by Nelson, Peter Copetti stuffed home the rebound to make it 3-2. Doherty tied the game at 3-3 with eight seconds to go in the period. A shot from Logan Cunningham was stopped by Nelson and Doherty found the rebound first, poking it home. After weathering the Storm’s push early in the third period, Fort McMurray looked to restore their lead. Diaz and Sundar both hit posts in the frame, and it looked like overtime was beckoning. However, with just over two minutes remaining, the Oil Barons struck pay dirt. After breaking up a potential 3-on-1, Rylan Ringor carried the puck into the offensive zone, picked out Sundar, who in turn found a wide open Lamanna, and the Sturgeon County product cashed in his second goal of the game putting Fort McMurray in front 4-3. Keefe Gruener added a blocker side snipe to extend the MOB’s lead to 5-3 with just over a minute to go, and Oil Barons walked away with a crucial two points.
Fort McMurray will be back in action next Friday, when they play three games in three days on the road. It starts in Canmore against the Eagles, with puck drop at 7pm.