The Fort McMurray Oil Barons had another strong weekend on home ice but as it?s been all season long, came away with a win and a loss.
The MOB (18-31-3) ran into a very good Drumheller Dragons team Friday night and hung tough but fell 4-2. On Saturday with the Olds Grizzlys in town, the MOB doubled them up 6-3 to give Head Coach Gord Thibodeau his first win at the Casman Centre since returning to the club.
With the Dragons (31-16-3) in town, it marked the return of goaltender Chris Curr who was dealt at the CJHL trade deadline to Drumheller. Curr was playing just his second game since returning from an injury that had the veteran netminder out of action since November 2nd.
Curr made 21 saves in the win and got some help from his Dragon teammates who built up a 3-1 lead early in the second period. Shane Ott had a powerplay goal in the first period to open the scoring before Josh Zinger tied the game on a shorthanded breakaway after Luke Harvie kicked the puck out of the MOB zone.
Kaden Hanas and Adam Heindel had the early second period goals to put the visitor?s up 3-1. But Harvie again started the play that led to the Oil Barons second goal when he played the puck into the slot area. Ethan Jamernik raced off the MOB benched and fired a shot on goal that was stopped by Curr. Jamernik followed up his rebound and potted his first goal of the season to cut the lead to one.
The MOB battled in the third period with a short bench after Brendan Stafford and Breydon Berthold were given game misconducts for separate hits throughout the game. But the MOB couldn?t find the equalizer and Hanas would score his second of the night into the empty net.
?We did a lot of good things, we had our chances, we didn?t bury pucks, we missed the net a lot in the third period especially when we had good scoring chances which comes back to hurt you,? Said MOB Head Coach Gord Thibodeau.
?Drumheller is one of the top teams there?s no question about it and we stood toe-to-toe for the better part of 60 minutes and that?s nice to see and if we continue that we will start to be rewarded.?
On Saturday, the MOB took on the Grizzlys (9-34-6) for the first time this season and jumped on them early. Kabore Dunn ripped home a shot 7:32 into the game and then it was Declan Douthart burying a feed from Hunter Lamb on the powerplay three minutes later to make it 2-0.
The Grizzlys found some life late in the period when Tyler Pang cut the lead in half. Olds would carry that momentum into the second period and scored two quick goals to take a 3-2 lead.
The Barons got their break in the final three minutes of the frame when Michael Hodge flipped a puck down the ice that Lamb raced after and with a quick move deked out Duncan Hughes to tie the game. Tyler Wallace then buried a rebound off an Ethan Jones blast 1:17 later to put the MOB up 4-3 after 40 minutes.
In the third period, the Barons shut down the Grizzlys and got a second goal from Lamb and an empty net goal from Stafford to round out the 6-3 win.
?It was great to see him rewarded, he?s been playing hard,? said Thibodeau on Lamb?s two goal effort. ?Probably the biggest thing was he was outstanding in the face-off circle tonight and it?s nice to have a guy that you can put out on the ice in the last two minutes that you know is going to win the draw.?
Hodge had a strong night chipping in three assists to give him 48 points on the year as the Oil Barons only dressed nine forwards so all three lines saw plenty of ice time.
?We battled back and with a short bench we did a good job in the third period of making sure we limited opportunities,? said Thibodeau.
One thing that was evident this weekend was this is going to be a tough MOB team to play against. The line of Harvie, Jamernik and Zinger was an absolute wrecking crew as the trio hit everything in sight and were able to hem their opponents in the offensive zone all weekend.
?Our target is to get between 30 and 40 hits a night and we?ve been fairly consistent with getting on the body and being a tougher team to play against,? said Thibodeau who knows his team will have to play that style of hockey to be successful moving forward.
Up next, the MOB hit the road for their final road trip of the regular season. They?ll be in Calgary Thursday, Brooks on Friday and Olds Saturday night. You can listen to all the action on Country 93.3.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
Photo by: Dan Lines