The Olds Grizzlys swept the season series against the Oil Barons with a pair of narrow victories at Centerfire Place. The Grizzlys stormed home with a 6-5 win on Saturday, before prevailing in overtime 4-3 on Sunday.
Fort McMurray had a dream start to open Saturday’s game, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first 6:43 of the opening period. Ryan Arnold opened the scoring after Jason Huang fed him a pass at the top of the crease that he shoveled home. A similar goal made it 2-0 Oil Barons. Anthony Campbell slipped a pass into the slot to Duncan Shin, who slapped home his first career AJHL goal. Then Carter Schmidt made it 3-0 with a highlight reel marker. The West Kelowna product skipped between two defencemen, before beating Aiden Comeau over the blocker, and the Oil Barons were rolling. However, Olds responded eight seconds later. Connor Seeley chipped the puck around Simon Diaz and found a wide open Mitch Patrick at the back door, and the Grizzlys cut the deficit to 3-1. Olds continued to chip away at the Oil Barons’ lead in the second period. Willem Terwoord sprang Nolan Viesner for a breakaway, where the Kamloops product beat Gabe Gratton to make it 3-2. Then five minutes into the second period, Greye Rampton finished off a 3-on-1 rush to tie the game at 3-3. Fort McMurray restored their advantage on the power-play. Ryan Arnold pushed the puck to the top of Comeau’s crease and Keefe Gruener deflected home his 10th goal of the season, making it 4-3 Oil Barons. Chad Lebeau made it 5-3. Campbell scooped up the puck from Shin and found Lebeau sneaking in from the blue-line, where the pride of Repentigny, Quebec snapped home his second goal of the year. Olds found another response late in the second period. After forcing a turnover, Hunter Bill skated down the right wing and found Viesner parked at Gratton’s back door for his second of the game, cutting the lead to 5-4. 55 seconds into the third period, the Grizzlys found the equalizer. Tait Humphries flipped a pass over the heads of the Oil Barons right to Cade Moxham, and the speedy forward scored to make it 5-5. Olds got their first lead of the game off another odd man rush. Gaige Giblin flew down the left wing and fired a shot over the glove of Gratton to make it 6-5 Grizzlys. Fort McMurray thought they tied the game, after Simon Gaul poked the puck over the line, however, the referee waved off the goal, due to the net being off its moorings.
The Oil Barons earned another early lead against the Grizzlys on Sunday. Gruener pulled the puck off the wall in Olds’ zone, and he found Evan Arnold wide open in the slot for his sixth goal of the season. But the Grizzlys tied the game in the first period. After a neutral zone turnover, Olds charged into Fort McMurray’s zone on a 3-on-1, where Moxham finished off a pretty passing play to make it 1-1. Ryder Many Grey Horses then made it 2-1 Olds. The puck bounced off an Oil Baron right into the slot, where the Strathmore product fired home his eighth goal of the season, over the glove of Noah Nelson. Early in the second period, Olds made it 3-1. Many Grey Horses found Mitch Patrick wide open in the slot, and the man from Airdrie scored his eighth goal of the year, ending Nelson’s game. The Oil Barons showed resilience after falling down by two. Vincent Lamanna received a feed from Gaul in the neutral, and he knifed his way past two defenders before firing home his sixth goal of the year on his backend, cutting the Grizzly lead to 3-2. Fort McMurray found an equalizer in the third period. Duncan Shin stormed into the offensive zone, threw a puck in front, where it bounced off the skate of Ryan Arnold and through the legs of Comeau, tying the game at 3-3. Both teams pressed for a go ahead goal, but the game would head to overtime. It took Olds just over a minute to score. Catching the Oil Barons on a bad line change, Patrick and Many Grey Horses found themselves on a breakaway, where Patrick scored the game winner for his second of the game.
Fort McMurray has two more games to wrap up the pre-Christmas schedule. Both of them are on the road, starting with a visit to the Drayton Valley Thunder on Friday, before they battle the Whitecourt Wolverines on Saturday. Both games start at 7pm.