After blowing a 3-1 third period lead, Brandon Ralph put the team on his back in overtime and with one rush up the ice, sent the Fort McMurray Oil Barons home with a 4-3 win over the Bonnyville Pontiacs Tuesday night.
Ralph picked up the puck and raced down the right side, taking the puck right around the Pontiacs net before spinning and firing a shot under the pad of Robert Jacobson 34 seconds into overtime for the winner.
“This was huge,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the win. “For us to come on a Tuesday night to Bonnyville in a very difficult rink to play in and get two points is huge.”
The Pontiacs (13-4-1) controlled the play for the majority of this game, outshooting the MOB 40-19. Despite a lack of shots, the MOB (15-4-1) took advantage of every opportunity the Pontiacs gave them.
Brett Edwards would open the scoring at 16:13 of the first period when he fired a shot over the shoulder of Jacobson. Matteo Aiello drew the assist on Edwards’s sixth goal of the year.
The Pontiacs would strike just over two minutes later while shorthanded. Ryan Piche snuck behind the MOB defence and received a stretch pass from Mitchell Oliver. Piche came in and snapped a shot past Forbes Ploszaj to tie the game 1-1.
The game would remain tied for a mere 20 seconds when Will Conley spotted a wide open Curtis Roach at the left point. Roach walked in and ripped a shot past Jacobson to restore the MOB’s one goal lead with 42 seconds left in the period.
“We could see it right from the bench, it was a great cross ice pass by Will (Conley) and he (Roach) just gets it on net and it goes in,” said Keca on the goal.
“He’s getting better in our own zone, he’s getting a little bit more physical, he battles, he’s a great kid and we’re very fortunate to have him on our backend.” Added Keca on the play of Roach of late.
The game stayed 2-1 until 1:38 of the third period. Liam Izyk was leveled just outside his own blueline but was able to get the puck to Hayden Ursulak who fed Conley and he popped home his sixth of the year to give the Barons a 3-1 lead.
“There’s no price too big to pay for success and Izyk takes the hit and he gets high stuck, he’s cut, he’s got blood coming out of his mouth and yet he’s willing to stand in there,” said Keca on the play of his rookie centre.
The Pontiacs had won the first two meetings of the season between the two clubs and were not going to go down without a fight against their division rival.
Piche wired home his second of the game at 7:18 to cut the lead to 3-2 before Oliver snapped home his first goal of the year on a powerplay with the net empty at 18:13 to tie the game 3-3.
Ploszaj was stellar in the MOB’s goal once again, making 37 saves and picking up his eighth win of the year.
“Our goaltending has probably been our most consistent aspect of our game, they give us a chance to win every game,” said Keca.
The MOB will return home to take on the Grande Prairie Storm Thursday night at the Casman Centre before getting a week off. Puck drop for the game is set for 7:30 p.m.
Fort McMurrayite Toby Shattler played his first game for the Barons and provided the physical play the team has lacked at times this season. Nick Nietubyc returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a lower body injury. The 19 shots for was the lowest of the season for the Barons.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com.
Photo taken on October 29, 2016 at the Casman Centre by Dan Lines.