Oil Barons Road Trip Preview (Jan 4-6)

Story Coming In:

It’s a new year for the Oil Barons and they will be tested throughout January. Ten of Fort McMurray’s next 11 games are against teams in the top seven of the AJHL standings. Against those opponents, the MOB has a combined record of 3-8-0-1, but they have shown that they can play tough against excellent opponents. Going in the Oil Barons favour as of late, has been their powerplay. Through the month of December, the man advantage went 11 for 39, pushing it from 13th to 10th overall in the AJHL. The Oil Barons are also getting strong play from 20-year-old forward Ethan Sundar, who has points in six of his last eight games, while Ryan Arnold and Vincent Lamanna posted ten and nine points respectively in December. While the offense has improved, the challenge for Fort McMurray will be tightening up defensively, as the team gave up three or more goals in seven of ten games in December. Their record when giving up three or more last month was 2-4-1.  

View From Bonnyville, Spruce Grove & Sherwood Park:

The Pontiacs had a rough stretch of games right before the Christmas break. With a 2-5-1 record, Bonnyville dropped to 9th place in the standings. However, after two weeks off, the Pontiacs won every game since the break, out-scoring their opposition 13-5. Myles Gauld has found his stride since being acquired from Camrose posting 12 points in 11 games, while Luka Sukovic continues to lead his team in points with 42. With good offensive players up and down the lineup and Bodee Weiss in net, the Pontiacs should regain their form and climb the standings. Arguably the biggest surprise of the season has been Spruce Grove. A team with huge expectations annually, the Saints have not lived up to them this season. Offense has held the Saints back this season, as they are one of four teams yet to hit 100 goals on the season. Ryder Matter and Evan Sundar lead their team in points with 23, while only three Saints have eclipsed the 20 point mark. If there is one major strength for Spruce Grove, it is the defense which has given up the fourth fewest goals against. Sherwood Park is a loaded squad and they are rolling. Heading into the weekend, the Crusaders won eight straight games and are seven points back of Brooks for first place. Eight players have 30 or more points, while Erick Roest is tied for the most wins by an AJHL goalie. Sherwood Park has also turned the Randy Rosen Rink into a fortress, where they’ve gone 16-2 so far this season.  With potent special teams and a deep squad, the Crusaders are positioned as a legitimate threat to push for this year’s title. 


Stats Leaders For Fort McMurray:

Goals: Gaul (15)

Assists: Lamanna (15)

Points: Gruener (24)

PIM: Hoogendoorn (70)

Goalies: Nelson: 6-6-0-2, 3.29 GAA, 0.921%, 1 SO

  Gratton: 7-13-2-1, 3.52 GAA, 0.906%