In Friday night's battle of the top two teams in the AJHL, the visiting Fort McMurray Oil Barons bounced back after a dreadful effort Friday night to topple the Spruce Grove Saints by a final score of 3-1.
“We were invested today,” said Oil Barons head coach and general manager Gord Thibodeau. “Guys were communicating, they were gritty, they played a solid game tonight.”
After a scoreless first period, the Saints would get on the board first with Carson Samoridny converting on the powerplay at 13:16. However, the Saints' lead would be short-lived as Adam Durkee found the back of the net a little more than three minutes later, knotting the game at one. Affiliate player Danton Davis assisted on Durkee's goal, registering his first point in the AJHL
After 40 minutes the Saints outshot the Barons 25-12, but the score would be tied at one until Zach Wittenburg gave the Barons the lead at 11:22 of the third period, burying a pass from Mitch Vanderlaan. Kevin Miller would seal the win for the MOB with an empty net goal in the final minute and the Barons would move within one point of the first place Saints.
“I just thought we played solid defensively,” said Thibodeau. “Again, we didn't finish opportunities. We had three outnumbered rushes in a three minute span in the second period and couldn't bury the puck, but we scratched and clawed and I thought our defence was a lot more physical than they usually are. That was definitely something that helped us win the game.”
Tanner Jaillet made 35 saves for the MOB, earning his 26th win of the season. With the win, the Barons improve their record to 37-6-3.
The Barons were scheduled to play Saturday night in Drayton Valley, but that game was cancelled due to a partial roof collapse at the Drayton Valley Omniplex. The next Oil Barons game is Tuesday night when the Bonnyville Pontiacs visit the Casman Centre. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.