The Fort McMurray Oil Barons survived a late third period flurry from the Sherwood Park Crusaders Friday night to hang on and win 2-1 for their 20th win of the season.
The MOB (20-5-1) became the first team to reach the 20 win plateau in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and rebounded nicely after a tough loss last weekend to the Drayton Valley Thunder.
“We’ve had some tough games after we’ve lost one so for us to come into an opponents rink and they also lost on Wednesday so they were hungry. I thought they took it to us the first 5-6 minutes but then we got our feet, got our barrings and withheld that initial onslaught and responded well,” said Oil Barons Head Coach Tom Keca whose team has yet to lose back to back games this season.
The Crusaders carried the play in the opening minutes but mid-way through the first period it was the Oil Barons who broke through. Kyler Newman blasted a shot from the left point that beat a screened Zach Klassen to open the scoring. The goal was Newman’s second of the year and seemed to spark the energy of the team.
“Great east west pass, Jack (McKinstry) got it back to him, he got it over to (Taner) Miller and Miller flipped it back. Kyler changed his shooting lane which was important and the goalie didn’t see it,” said Keca on the goal.
It would be another MOB defenceman doubling the Barons lead four minutes later. Curtis Roach picked up a loose puck below the goal line and tucked home his seventh of the year to make it 2-0 at 16:43. Davis Sheldon drew the lone assist and extended his assist streak to four games. Sheldon has eight assists over that stretch.
“Really liked our game, I thought offensively we did a lot of good things. We played a lot of small area games, touch passes, I thought that we did a great job,” said Keca.
The Crusaders would get on the board late in the second period on a powerplay when Arjun Atwal teed up Tyler Maltby for a one-timer. The 20 year old ripped home his league leading 22nd goal and 39th point.
The third period was the Eric Szudor show. The goaltender stopped all 22 shots fired his way as the Crusaders peppered the MOB netminder and pressed for an equalizer right to the final buzzer. Szudor made 35 saves in picking up his 11th win.
The Barons will look to ride the momentum of Friday’s win into Saturday when they travel to Lloydminster to take on the Bobcats. Pre-game show begins at 7:15 p.m. on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photographer: Dan Lines