Oil Barons split final two games in Return to Play series vs Saints

Fort McMurray, AB (April 4, 2021) – The Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Spruce Grove Saints wrapped up their Return to Play series this weekend, with each team winning a game.

On Friday night in Spruce Grove, the Oil Barons scored three goals en route to a 3-1 win over the Saints. Clarke Huxley opened the scoring for the Barons at 13:45 of the 1st period by finding the back of the net off a scramble in front of the Saints’ goal. For Huxley, it was his first AJHL goal after signing with the Oil Barons last summer.

Tristan Kimmen would extend the lead to 2-0 at 15:45 of the 1st period by finding the top right hand corner of the net with a wrist shot from in tight of the Saints goal.

In the 2nd period, Jesse Burchart continued his scoring ways by notching his sixth goal of the Return to Play series to make it 3-0 Oil Barons at 11:07 of the period. The game would stay at 3-0 until 19:56 of the 3rd period when McKay Hayes threw a shot on net breaking Josh Nadler’s bid for a shoutout.

The teams would meet again on Sunday afternoon at Centrefire Place for the eighth and final game of the series. In similar fashion to the way much of this series went, the Oil Barons continued to score in bunches to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the 1st period.

At 11:16 of the 1st period, Hassan Akl recorded his fifth goal of the series by tipping home a Brendan Wang point shot. Michael Hodge recorded the second assist on the goal, adding to his league-leading 22nd point in 12 games this season.

Hodge would then extend the lead to 2-0 seconds later by tucking a backhand shot under the crossbar at 11:31, while Taige Harding found the back of the net with a wrist shot on the powerplay at 12:41.

Despite holding a commanding 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play, it was the Saints who responded and held much of the play for the remainder of the game.
Nikola Jovanovic, Breck McKinley and Caiden Gault all scored 2nd period goals for the Saints, making it a 3-3 game after 40 minutes of play.

The Oil Barons would respond with a goal of their own in the 3rd period when Hassan Akl sent the puck across the ice to find an open Rider McCallum. McCallum would find the net to restore the lead for the Oil Barons at 8:52.

However, the lead would be short lived as Liam Watkins scored at 14:16 to once again tie the game at 4-4.With the game tied at 4 and headed to overtime, Graham Gamache beat Evan Fradette with a wrist shot from the slot to seal a 5-4 victory for the Saints.

In total, the Oil Barons would go 6-0-2 in the eight game series against the Saints, outscoring them 42-24 over that stretch.

Under the AJHL’s Return to Play plan and COVID-19 protcool, the Oil Barons will now take a break before switching cohorts in mid-April. Details on who and when the Oil Barons will play next will be announced by the AJHL at a later date.

As always, you can catch all Oil Barons’ games on Hockey TV and Country 93.3.