The penalty box door at the Centennial Civic Centre in Lloydminster may have needed some grease after being worn out Saturday night as it was a penalty filled affair as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (28-6-3) took on the Lloydminster Bobcats (15-23-2).
The Barons were shorthanded 11 times and faced back to back five-on-threes and two double minors in the second period but through it all they emerged with a hard fought 5-3 victory.
“Full credit to my players, I’m so proud of our players for sticking to it,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the win. “From (Eric) Szudor to our backend to our forwards I thought that was a gutsy effort from us tonight.”
The Oil Barons had a strong first period, leading 3-0 at the intermission. Connor Lyons opened the scoring 2:07 into the game as he tucked in a wrap around for his third goal of the year.
The MOB would strike twice in the final two minutes of the period to add to their lead. The first was a great play by Reed Morison who knocked down a clearing attempt and found some room in behind the Bobcat defence before slipping a backhand shot past the blocker arm of Pierce Diamond.
Merritt Oszytko rounded out the scoring in the opening frame when he ripped a shot from the high slot into the top corner for his 16th goal of the season. Taner Miller and Will Conley drew assists on the goal. Conley has a point in all five meetings with the Bobcats this season. Totaling five goals and 11 points in the season series.
The game took a drastic turn in the second period as the Oil Barons paraded to the penalty box and the Bobcats were able to capitalize on two of their powerplays. Zach Kaiser scored both goals and extended his point streak to 12 games.
“It’s 3-0 at the end of the first period and we get seven penalty kills in the second period. Seven. Not one, not two but seven,” said a very frustrated Keca after the game. “This was so unfortunate to have two teams and full credit to Lloydminster, they’re doing so much better here, they play hard and we’re coming in the second game, we’re fighting for first place in our division and you end up having to kill 11 powerplays. Eleven. That’s a tough pill for me to swallow.”
The Barons spent nearly half the period shorthanded and would begin the third period on the penalty kill. The MOB would get their turn on the man advantage just past the five minute mark of the frame and made sure they took advantage of the opportunity.
Already with one goal in the game, Morison rushed up ice and attacked the Bobcats 1-on-3. Morison undressed the Bobcat defenceman before firing a shot five hole on Diamond for his 19th goal of the year to put the MOB up 4-2. The Calgary native now has five goals in his past two games.
“Big players play in big games and in big moments throughout a 60 minute game and at that moment it was a crucial time for us, trying to hold on to a one goal lead and getting the powerplay and capitalizing at that moment was huge. Reed does a great job as he undresses the defenceman and goes in and scores and he’s done that time and time again for us,” said Keca on the play of Morison.
The Bobcats would get within one when Tucker Scantlebury beat Eric Szudor from the top of the circle on yet another Bobcat powerplay. The Bobcats finished the night 3-11 on the man advantage while the Barons went 1-4.
An empty net goal by Jack Hamly sealed the win with 20 seconds to go in the third period as he popped in a missed shot by Miller for his 13th goal of the season.
The MOB have now won three games in a row and finish up their road trip Sunday afternoon in Sherwood Park. You can catch all the action beginning with the pre-game show at 2:00 p.m. with Taylor Pope on Country 93.3.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photo by: Dan Lines, Fort McMurray Oil Barons