Riding a three game losing streak to end 2019, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons couldn?t wait to flip the calendar and start 2020 on the right foot.
They did exactly that Thursday night at the Casman Centre as they hammered the Calgary Canucks 7-0 for their most lopsided win of the season.
It was the first meeting of the season between the two teams, something the MOB will have a lot of over the final 19 games. The MOB will play a South Division opponent in 11 of their final 19 games which will include games against five teams who they have yet to see this season.
The scoreboard ended with the MOB (15-23-2) up big but if it wasn?t for goaltender Evan Fradette, the game could have been a lot closer. Fradette made 22 saves to pick up his third shutout of the season but his biggest stop came just over two minutes into the game.
A brutal turnover by the Barons in their own end sent the Canucks (5-33-1) Dylan Clark in on a breakaway. Fradette got the glove hand up to rob Clark and stoned him on the rebound with his left pad to keep the game 0-0.
?It was a great start to the year for sure and Fradette was full marks for the shutout. Early in the game he makes that real good save after we turned it over and he actually had to earn it in the end too as he had to make some saves late in the game,? said MOB Head Coach Bob Beatty.
From there, the Oil Barons settled down and controlled the game. Captain Konrad Belcourt started the scoring parade 7:08 into the first period when his shot clanked off the crossbar and hit Canucks goalie Jay Thomson in the back before trickling across the line.
?He had a real strong game and he?s been that for us all year. He?s a good two-way player who defends well, has great feet, skates extremely well and he?s strong, he?s a great defender and he?s usually a big contributor for us,? said Beatty on Belcourt.
Ethan Jones doubled the MOB lead at 10:37 when he finished off a nice passing play with Sheldon Kwiatkowski and Riley Bodnarchuk.
In the final minute of the period Kabore Dunn decided to go for a skate up ice. With a couple moves through the neutral zone, Dunn walked across the Canuck line and wired a shot into the top right corner to give the Barons a 3-0 lead. The 18 year old defenceman now has 10 points in his last 10 games.
The Barons kept the scoring going early in the second period and it was Dunn again who was in on the goal. Dunn found the puck below the Canucks goal line and fed Michael Hodge on the short side. Hodge who has been the hottest Oil Baron of late ripped a shot up under the crossbar to make it a 4-0 game. Hodge has a point in 11 of his last 12 games and has 10 goals and 18 points in that stretch.
The Barons continued to pour it on in the third period when Josh Zinger finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play with Luke Harvie and Jesse Burchart.
?They played together a few weeks ago and seemed to mesh pretty well. They have a lot of speed and any line that Josh Zinger plays on he?s going to make it better and we liked that line tonight and it was (Assistant Coach Justin) Rose?s idea to put them back together and balance out the lines and it paid off for us tonight,? said Beatty.
Hunter Lamb fooled everyone to make it a 6-0 game when he strolled through the slot and tipped a Taige Harding shot into the top left corner for his 9th of the year on a power play.
The Barons struck again on another man-advantage when Belcourt fired home his second goal of the night to make it a 7-0 final.
The MOB are back in action Friday night as they welcome the Canmore Eagles (13-21-4) to the Casman Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
Photo by: Dan Lines