The Oil Barons split a two game home series against the Canmore Eagles. The Eagles took the first match 6-1, while Vincent Lamanna’s three point afternoon led Fort McMurray to a 5-4 victory on Sunday.
On Saturday, after a scoreless first period, the Oil Barons drew first blood in the second period. Brett Boucher forced a turnover in the offensive zone and was one-on-one against Matthew Kieper. The Fort McMurray product wired a shot over the shoulder of Kieper for his third goal of the season, giving the Oil Barons a 1-0 lead. Canmore responded midway through the frame. On the power-play, Owen Jones scooped up the puck in the right faceoff circle, stepped to the middle of the ice and snapped a shot past the blocker of Gabe Gratton. The Eagles then took a 2-1 lead before the end of the period. After a turnover in the neutral zone, Nathan MacPherson-Ridgewell led a four-on-one into Fort McMurray’s end, where he set up Tyler Loughman for a tap-in. The third period ended up being all Canmore. After an unfortunate bounce off the zamboni door, the puck ricocheted to Ethan Look, who beat a surprised Gratton making it 3-1. The rest of the scoring was thanks to Canmore’s power-play, as penalties ended the Oil Barons’ hopes in the game. Brody Tallman scored on a 5-on-3 man advantage, as his shot picked its way through a crowd. Rhett Dekowny made it 5-1 with a one-timer from the right faceoff circle. Then Zach Coutu struck on another 5-on-3 power-play to round out the scoring at 6-1.
The Oil Barons were looking for a bounce back effort on Sunday afternoon. They jumped out to an early lead after Vincent Lamanna’s efforts in the offensive zone set up Liam Rodman for a blast from the blue-line that sizzled past Kieper. The penalty kill also bounced back in a big way. Late in the first period, Canmore had a full two minute 5-on-3 power-play, but they could not solve Noah Nelson and the Oil Barons’ penalty kill. Canmore came out firing to start the second period, but Nelson continued to make timely saves to keep his team in front 1-0. Then Fort McMurray’s offense came to life. About seven minutes into the period, Brett Boucher picked out Nik Hoogendoorn at the top of the crease, and the Gibsons, British Columbia product shot home his sixth goal of the season to make it 2-0. Less than a minute later, the Oil Barons further extended their lead. On a three-on-one, Carter Schmidt connected with a charging Ethan Sundar, who deflected home his second marker of the season. Fort McMurray made it 4-0 before the end of the second period. In the dying stages of a Fort McMurray penalty, Keefe Gruener and Lamanna sped up the ice on a two-on-one. Gruener’s shot was stopped by Kieper, before it bounced off Lamanna and through the goaltender’s legs. The Oil Barons added another marker at the start of the third period. Lamanna’s pass hit the side of Canmore’s net, and when Kieper was looking in the wrong direction, Simon Gaul slid home his team leading eighth goal of the year, making it 5-0 Fort McMurray. However, Canmore did not give up. 1:10 after Gaul’s goal, a bouncing puck found its way to Haruki Morikawa in the slot, and he made it 5-1. A couple minutes later, Owen Jones outwaited Nelson and scored to make it a 5-2 game. Midway through the third, a turnover at Canmore’s blue-line sprang MacPherson-Ridgewell on a breakaway, shorthanded. Nelson got a piece of MacPherson-Ridgewell’s backhander, but the puck still bounced into the goal making it 5-3. Then with five minutes remaining, Josh Hoekstra connected with Loughman on a two-on-one to make it a one goal game. Canmore pressed for an equalizer, but thanks to Nelson and some blocked shots in front of him from the defense, the Oil Barons held on for a 5-4 victory.
Fort McMurray returns to action on Friday and Saturday for another big series at Centerfire Place against the Drayton Valley Thunder. Both games start at 7:30pm.