The Whitecourt Wolverines eliminated the Fort McMurray Oil Barons from the 2016 playoffs in three straight games with a 7-1 victory at the Casman Centre Sunday night.
It was a tight game through a period of play where the score was 2-1 Whitecourt, but a three-goal second period saw the Wolverines walk away with the game after the first intermission.
“One of those games where it just seemed like we vacated the house too much and every opportunity that we gave they capitalized and that’s why they’re an explosive team,” said Oil Barons Head Coach Tom Keca on the ROCK 97.9 post-game show. “You can’t give guys like [Eric] Krienke, and [Erik] Pedersen, and [Joseph] Nardi and [Justin] Young you can’t give them opportunities like that. I don’t feel like we made them work hard for a lot of their goals.”
The Wolverines had two goals from Cory Santoro along with singles from Frederic Letourneau, Eric Krienke, Elliott Peterson, Erik Pedersen, and Jaedon Leslie.
Jarred White scored the lone MOB goal, a power-play marker for his first ever Junior ‘A’ point, it was assisted by Captain Tyler Dea in his final junior hockey game.
Dea, McCallum, and Sharf move on
Dea, 20, was visibly emotional on the ice following the loss and along with Connor McCallum wrapped up his junior hockey career as a member of the blue and gold. Head Coach Tom Keca talks about the leadership qualities during his post-game interview posted above. The veteran players were instrumental members of the MOB’s rebuild this season and were both great in community outreach efforts.
Ben Sharf also played his final junior game he’s off to Colgate University this coming fall.
Rebuild leads to growth
The loss puts an end to the 2015-16 campaign for the Oil Barons, a rebuilding year that saw a team that was wet behind the ears at the start of the season get even younger thanks to the departure of veteran players Ravi Dattani and Cole Todd, along with a slew of injuries.
Those losses allowed younger players like Tanner Miller, Will Conley, Hayden Ursulak, Brett Edwards, Marcus Kichton, Shawn Weber, Dylan Rauh and others to step into the spotlight and play big minutes and earn what will be valuable experience down the road.
“The motto always was in previous years was that you have to develop these kids so that when we get to this point in the season those guys should be able to play in every situation,” said Keca. “There’s a fine line that you run as a coach because sometimes when you give kids too much ice time then you’re almost sinking them.”
Looking ahead to next season
While the players will have their exit meetings with the coaching staff Monday, then likely take a couple of weeks off before beginning an off-season training regimen, the MOB coaching staff starts work on 2016-17 right away as Keca already has scouts out across the continent seeking fresh talent.
“I think we have to get bigger and we have to get heavier, we’ve got some smaller guys and I think that we just have to skate a lot better,” said Keca. “That’s the first prerequisite we gave all our scouts, we need to get bigger, we need to skate more and we need a little bit more skill.”
Keca noted in his post-game interview that he already has verbal commitments from top end Midget players on both sides of the border.
A ten win, thirty point season isn’t what fans in Fort McMurray are familiar with, but the Head Coach says things will get better.
“To a man we’ll be better, we’ll be better as a coaching staff, we’ll be better as a roster, we’ll be better as an organization and we’ll get back to where we need to be,” said Keca. “I’d like to thank all the fans for all their support and all their patience and we will be a lot better next year.”
Congratulations to Tyler Dea, and Connor McCallum on their lengthy junior careers, and best of luck to Ben Sharf at Colgate University next season.
Article courtesy of mymcmurray.com.
Photo taken by Dan Lines.