CANMORE, AB (December 1, 2012) — Scott Pooley (Granger, IN) tallied at least three points, and Ethan Wood (Jasper, AB) made 33 saves, as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (14-13-3) ended the first half of the season with a 4-2 road win over the Canmore Eagles on Saturday night.
The Barons played the game with only eleven forwards, having just hours earlier traded star scorer Kevin Lacroix to the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
It was an inauspicious start for a team aiming to rebound from a 7-2 drubbing at the hands of Okotoks the previous night, as Jeremy Margeson put a rebound shot past Wood just 2:36 into the game to give the home side an early lead, in a period where Canmore outshot Fort McMurray 10-5.
But Pooley made his first impact just over halfway through the opening frame, forcing a turnover at the Eagles blueline, skating into the Canmore slot, and firing a wrist shot past Cam Barnes to knot the game at 1-1.
“Their D went to turn, and just bobbled it,” Pooley recalled. “They almost had two other guys collide – I got the loose puck, and just put it on net, and hoped for the best.”
The second period was closer on the shot tally at 8-7 for Canmore, but the Eagles again scored the first goal when Mattia Bortolotto converted a wrist shot from the high slot to reclaim a one-goal lead at 2:26.
But as time wound down in the period, the Eagles again committed a turnover in their own zone. This time, Luc Lalor (St. Albert, AB) picked it off, and fed a wide-open Pooley at the right-wing face-off circle, who skated in close and lifted a shot short-side past Barnes to again tie the game with just 56 seconds to go in the middle stanza.
“Luc has tremendous vision,” said Pooley of his linemate. “I knew if there was a lane, he could get it to me, so I just went up the right side, and luckily he got it there to me – there was an open lane, and I shot it, again, hoping for the best.”
“[Barnes] was out pretty far, and I almost went for a rebound, going five hole far pad, and I think he almost expected me to go far pad so he could cheat a little bit, and it snuck right through.”
The third period belonged to Fort McMurray despite their being outshot 17-7 in the frame, and 35-19 overall.
Just past the five minute mark, Zach Wittenburg fed a puck to centre ice that was chipped ahead by Pooley to Lalor, who skated in to the left-wing face-off circle of the Canmore zone and sent a far-side wrister past the glove hand of Barnes to give Fort McMurray its first lead of the game.
Ethan Wood kept the lead save with a masterful 33-save effort, including on several surefire point-blank opportunities that sent audible groans through the Canmore crowd of 367.
As the third period drew to a close, Eagles forward Bryan Arneson took an ill-timed charging penalty, putting his team down a man with just 1:19 to go in the game.
The Eagles managed a shorthanded possession and pulled Barnes, but the puck was chipped all the way down into the Canmore zone, where Danny Gayle (Calgary, AB) won a footrace and tapped the puck into the empty net to seal the win with 21 seconds left in the game.
Pooley's line with Lalor and Mike Marianchuk (Innisfail, AB) led the pace offensively, despite it being their first game playing together.
“I knew Mike and Luc were both playmakers, and can find the net themselves” said Pooley. “I just wanted to contribute to that. I felt like we worked well together, good communication, and things just clicked tonight.”
The win, combined with a loss by the Sherwood Park Crusaders, left the MOB just one point out of sixth place in the AJHL North division.
The Barons take on the Calgary Mustangs tomorrow afternoon at 2pm to cap off the three-game road trip.
“We're coming in with the same mindset,” said Pooley. “We know nothing's ever given to us. We need to control the game.”
Pre-game coverage starts at 1:45 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Luc Lalor (1 goal, 1 assist)
2. Ethan Wood (33 saves, 35 shots)
1. Scott Pooley (2 goals, 1 assist)