FORT MCMURRAY, AB (October 9, 2012) — The Fort McMurray Oil Barons (4-7-1) blew two separate three goal leads, and allowed five straight goals, en route to a 7-5 loss to the Spruce Grove Saints (7-4-1) at the Casman Centre on Tuesday night.
“We were dumb from the start,” said head coach and general manager Gord Thibodeau. “Mentally, we just weren't there tonight, and didn't compete.”
The game started out well enough for the MOB, despite defensive lapses that were compensated for by stellar netminding by Tanner Jaillet (Red Deer, AB).
A powerplay goal from Adam Durkee (Lafayette, CO) on a wrister from the left faceoff circle, set up by a nifty centring pass from Luc Lalor (St. Albert, AB), gave the Barons an early lead at the 3:57 mark.
Just under 10 minutes later, Kevin Lacroix (St. Albert, AB) snapped a 10-game goalless streak with his second of the year, speeding in along the left wing and firing a quick wrister past goaltender Kenny Cameron, who was pulled from the game but returned for the third.
The Barons claimed their first 3-goal lead just under 4 minutes into the second when Lacroix found Harry Hendrix (Calgary, AB) at the side of the Saints net, who one-timed a powerplay shot past backup Nathan Park to make it a 3-0 game. Hendrix extended his goal scoring streak to three games with the marker.
The Saints only took a little more than 30 seconds to respond, however. Dylan Hollman finished a rebound chance, and just under 10 minutes later, Matia Bortolloto converted on another net-front scramble to bring the visitors back within one.
The Barons re-extended their lead in the period with a sharp-angle powerplay goal from Brett Printz (Red Deer, AB), and a point shot blast from Matt Purmal (Merrill, WI) for his first goal as an Oil Barons, to re-claim a 5-2 margin.
But Saints forward Doug Morris was left alone at the side of the McMurray net to fire a one-timer past Jaillet with less than 5 seconds left in the period to cap off the 6-goal middle frame at just a 5-3 Barons lead.
The third period belonged to Spruce Grove, as they outshot the Barons 12-8 and scored four more consecutive goals, off the sticks of Mitch McNamara, Doug Morris for his second, Parker MacKay, and Dylan Richard to take a 7-5 lead that they would not relinquish.
The Barons rebounded on a powerplay that had struggled as of late, going 2-for-3 with the man advantage.
“It was good to get the five goals, and the powerplay did look very dangerous,” added Thibodeau. “It's just frustrating that the offence shows up, and for the first time in a long time, the defence just laid an egg.”
The coach was quick to emphasize the loss didn't lie with his goaltender.
“Tanner played a great game,” he said. “Absolutely no blame to him – our defence have to knock somebody down. They were standing around our crease all night, and we did nothing to move them.”
Thibodeau says his issue isn't so much that a young team has been inconsistent – but that the veteran corps is erring just as much.
“We're seeing the vets make the same mistakes too,” he said. “The young guys are supposed to be watching the veterans and learning how to do things properly, but unfortunately that's not working very well right now.”
The Barons are back in action Friday night at the Casman as they host the Grande Prairie Storm for the first of two games.
“We'll do a little off-ice video work tomorrow, get back at it Thursday,” the coach summarized. “It's one of those things – you've got to keep knocking at the door until you can break it in.”
Puck drop is at 8pm with pre-game coverage at 7:45 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars: 3. Kevin Lacroix (1 goal, 1 assist) 2. Doug Morris (2 goals) 1. Dylan Richard (1 goal, 1 assist)