The Fort McMurray Oil Barons used a pair of powerplay goals from Will Conley and a strong performance in net from Eric Szudor to help stop their three game losing streak as they beat the Bonnyville Pontiacs 3-2 Sunday afternoon to finish up a three game road trip.
The MOB (33-10-3) entered the game after back to back loses to Spruce Grove and Lloydminster to open the trip and were hoping to have some better luck on Sunday but in the game’s opening seconds, it was the Pontiacs (16-25-7) who nearly got on the board first.
Off the opening face-off the puck came to Charlie Gawlicki who found himself all alone in the slot and was robbed by Eric Szudor. The save was Szudor’s biggest of the game and came ten seconds after puck drop.
“He played great and that was a big save because you’re coming off a bit of a slide and you give up a chance like that ten seconds into the game and if that goes in, who knows what it does to our bench,” said MOB Assistant Coach Dave Dupas. “He makes the save, energizes our bench and we went to work after that so that really was even though it was only ten seconds into the game was huge for us.”
The MOB seemed to settle down from that point on and used a late powerplay to open the scoring. While on a five-on-three advantage, the Barons moved the puck around quickly and found Will Conley on his off wing. Conley’s initial shot was stopped by Justin Travis but Conley hammered home his own rebound for his team leading 33rd goal.
A strong forecheck in the second period would lead to the Barons second goal when Owen Reith dug the puck out to Jack Hamly who spotted Reed Morison in the low slot. Morison made no mistake ripping a shot into the top corner for his 24th goal of the season to give the MOB a 2-0 lead.
The two goal lead was short lived as the Barons got crossed up in their own end on the next shift and the Pontiacs Joel Ray tucked in his 2nd of the year 33 seconds after the Morison goal.
The MOB would notch their second powerplay goal of the night with some quick puck movement once again at 14:28 of the second perod. Curtis Roach and Reed Morison found Conley on the near side and he wired in his second goal of the game to make it 3-1. The two goal performance from Conley was his eighth multi-goal game this season,
“We need our best players to step up especially when the team is struggling like this. If our top guys don’t step up and score some goals for us then it’s going to be very difficult to stop the slide you’re in so when your top guys start putting pucks in the net it makes it much easier for us to win games and we’re very happy to see that,” said Dupas of receiving goals from the teams top two scorers in Conley and Morison.
A late goal from Adam Panacci with 50 seconds left in the third period made the game interesting but the Oil Barons hung on with a strong road performance.
The game was a physical affair as the two teams exchanged a handful of big hits, two of which led to fights. Merritt Oszytko dropped the mitts with Zach Aston in the first period and in the third it was Jordan Roy and Brayden Goulet going at it.
The rivalry will continue Thursday night at the Casman Centre when the two teams meet for a sixth and final time in the regular season. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
Photo by: Dan Lines, Fort McMurray Oil Barons