It was a battle between the two top teams in the AJHL and the home team came out with the win, as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons shutout the Spruce Grove Saints 2-0 Saturday night.
“We talked about the fact that defence wins come playoff time and I thought tonight defensively we were strong,” said Oil Barons head coach and general manager Gord Thibodeau. “We gave up some shots, but a lot of perimeter shots. We did a good job limiting their scoring chances and did a great job killing four straight (penalties) in the third period.”
The Saints controlled much of the play in the opening frame, but some solid goaltending from Tanner Jaillet kept the MOB in the game. The Barons would score their first goal of the game on the powerplay with just under four minutes to play in the first period. Brennan Saulnier passed the puck to Adam Durkee who tapped in his 22nd goal of the season. The Saints outshot the Barons 12-5 through the first period, but the Barons would take their 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Early in the middle frame, the line of Saulnier, Durkee and Ryan Bloom were able to light the lamp again as Bloom dished the puck from behind the net to Saulnier who was wide-open in the slot. Saulnier made no mistake, potting his 16th goal of the season. The Barons were able to hold off the Saints from making a comeback and win the game 2-0, despite a 31-15 shot advantage for the visiting team.
“Can't complain with a shutout ever, the team played well in front of me,” said Jaillet. “Kept things simple and it worked out.”
Oil Barons defenceman Brett McNeil was ejected from the game following a five minute major for boarding in the final minute of the game. McNeil hit Saints forward Cameron Hughes hard into the boards and Hughes had to leave the ice on a stretcher.
“You definitely don't want anyone to get injured; our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family and hopefully everything is going to be okay for him,” said Thibodeau.
The Oil Barons are back in action Sunday afternoon with a 2 p.m. game at the Casman Centre against the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Photo Credit: Robert Murray/Fort McMurray Today