Rookie line leads charge as MOB beat Thunder 4-3

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons used a three goal second period to pick up their fourth straight win as they beat the Drayton Valley Thunder 4-3 Saturday night.

The MOB were led by a two goal performance from Connor Lyons and a three point night from Jackson Verstraete.

“I thought the guys played well,” said MOB head coach Tom Keca on the win. “We controlled the play for the majority of the first 40 minutes I thought. We outshot them terribly, we had great chances and it was great to see our energy line get three goals.”

The Oil Barons (16-2-1) and Thunder (2-18-0) were meeting for the third time in a week with the MOB winning both games last weekend by scores of 8-3 and 4-2.

Chris Curr made his third straight start in goal for the MOB against the Thunder and made 19 saves in picking up his 6th win of the season.

The Oil Barons opened the scoring 13:05 into the first period when Reed Morison tossed the puck towards the goal. The puck bounced off a pair of legs, off Liam Izyk, off the goalpost then off the skate of Tymen Edelkoort before it crossed the line. The goal was Izyk’s 5th and gave him goals in back to back games.

In the second period, the MOB’s rookie line of Verstraete, Lyons and Luke Harvie went to work.

After some good pressure in the offensive zone, Harvie got the puck to Ryan Conroy who sent a shot on goal. Edelkoort kicked out a rebound that went right to Verstraete who buried his 5th goal of the year.

“We talk about being team tough and it’s not about fighting anymore, it’s about going to those areas where you’re going to take a slash but you’re still going to make a play and Jackson has shown time and time again that he’s a team first guy,” said Keca. “He’s willing to do whatever. He’s got pucks on the face, he’s got teeth missing and he’s a posterboy of what we’d like our players to be after a successful weekend.”

After the Thunder cut the lead to 2-1 off a goal from John Elliott, Verstraete again kick started the MOB attack as the Barons restored their two goal lead just over a minute later.

The 18 year received a stretch pass from Taner Miller and drove hard to the goal. His initial shot was stopped but the rebound sat in the crease for Connor Lyons to tap in his first career AJHL goal.

On the lines next shift, another aggressive forecheck caused a turnover where Verstraete fed Lyons who was left all alone in behind the Thunder defence. With a slick move around Edelkoort, Lyons slid home his second goal of the period to make it 4-1 MOB.

“They buzzed around the puck, we talk about not giving up on any opportunities to create offense and sometimes you might not be the first guy in on forecheck but you shouldn’t give up because sometimes the defence will turn the puck over and I thought that they did a great job of hounding the puck,” said Keca of his rookie line.

In the third period, Steve Senese scored a powerplay goal for the Thunder six minutes in to make it a two goal game.

The Thunder would get within a goal with 16 seconds left when Chris Curr tried to fire the puck down the ice at the empty net but fanned on his clearing shot and the puck went right to Elliott who shot the puck into an open cage.

The win was the Oil Barons league leading 10th on the road as the MOB improved to 10-1-0 away from the Casman Centre.

The Barons wrap up their six game road trip Sunday afternoon in Spruce Grove against the Saints. Pre-game show begins at 1:45 p.m. on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope.

MOB head coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show.

Written by: Taylor Pope,

Photo by: Dan Lines, Fort McMurray Oil Barons