CALGARY, AB (December 2, 2012) — Scott Pooley (Granger, IN) scored another two goals, including the game-winner, as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (15-13-3) edged the Calgary Mustangs 3-2 on Sunday afternoon despite playing with only 10 forwards.
It capped off a three-game in two-and-a-half days road trip for the MOB, which had started with a 7-2 loss to Okotoks but turned around the previous night with a 4-2 win over Canmore.
“You can't stress enough the importance of gaining four points on this road trip,” said head coach Gord Thibodeau. “There's been a lot of character in this group all year, and they keep surprising us; just when we think they might be down for the count, they find a way to come up with a gutty effort.”
“We had two veteran forwards in the lineup – it says a lot about our group.”
The MOB didn't take long to adjust to the olympic-sized ice surface at the Father David Bauer Arena, as just 3:14 into the game, Danny Gayle (Calgary, AB) fed a perfect centring pass from the left-wing corner to a wide-open Parker Evans-Campbell (High River, AB) in the slot, who fired a wrister past netminder Ravi Dattani for an early 1-0 lead.
The Mustangs responded quickly, however, when Chase McMurphy scored on a wrist shot from the high slot at the 8:18 mark to tie the game after one.
But the second period was perhaps one of the best twenty-minute stretches of the season for the Barons, as they outshot the Mustangs 18-4 and added two more goals off the stick of Scott Pooley (Granger, IN).
“We talked about the fact, between the first and second, that we've really got to move the puck better,” recalled Thibodeau. “Once we started moving the puck quickly from the defence to the forwards, our transition game really kicked into gear, and that's been a problem for us all year.”
Pooley's first came with five minutes left when he poked a puck lying on the goal line, and his second came 3:35 later on a perfect backdoor pass from linemate Luc Lalor.
It made for four goals for Pooley in the two MOB wins on the weekend.
“He's putting himself in a position to have an impact on the game,” said Thibodeau of Pooley. “We always knew Scott was talented, we always knew he could shoot the puck hard, but the biggest factor, and he'll admit it, is the compete level, learning how to play the game, in the AJ; he's gotten better with it, he's gotten more consistent with it, and lo and behold he's starting to get more opportunities.”
“He's been the right man in the right spot a lot – and that's a skill.”
The Mustangs reversed the momentum in the third, however, when they outshot the Barons 16-3 and scored just 1:52 in off of a Matt Heseltine one-timer from just outside the crease.
But Tanner Jaillet (Red Deer, AB) held on late, making a 32-save performance hold up for a narrow MOB win.
“He just looked solid today,” said Thibodeau. “He had that look in his eye that we've seen from him, where you're not going to get a lot of rebounds; you'd better make sure it's a good clean shot, because otherwise he's got it covered.”
“He was very confident, and as a result I think our guys tend to relax a little bit more.”
The victory puts the Barons ahead of the Sherwood Park Crusaders into 6th place in the AJHL North.
Coincidentally, the Barons take on the Crusaders in their next game, Wednesday night in Sherwood Park at 7pm.
“We're going to have an optional skate tomorrow,” said Thibodeau. “We need to get some rest; we know we're not going to get much back in terms of health, but we'll have a good practice Tuesday, and then into Sherwood Park; and we know our next three games are huge games.”
Pre-game coverage starts at 6:45 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Luc Lalor (2 assists)
2. Chase McMurphy (1 goal, 1 assist)
1. Scott Pooley (2 goals)