Saints slip by MOB 2-1 in Shootout

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons were hoping to finish a three game home stand on a winning note when they welcomed the Spruce Grove Saints to town Sunday afternoon.

The two teams both iced short benches and at the end of the game it would be the Saints coming out on top with a 2-1 shootout win.

With three defencemen already on the shelf and affiliate player Noah Kallichuk having to return to his midget team, the Barons entered play with four defencemen. A quick look to the other side of the ice and you quickly noticed a short staffed Saints squad with just nine forwards dressed and 15 skaters.

“I don’t know how the game looked from the stands but from the ice it looked a little slower, I mean we only had four defence and they only had nine forwards so they were in the same boat,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca. “I’m not making excuses but realistically you had two pretty tired hockey teams on the ice.”

The two teams played to an entertaining 1-0 win last Sunday in Spruce Grove and this game would be no different with both goaltenders being tough to beat. Eric Szudor turned aside 28 of 29 shots faced while the Saints Nolan Kent made 24 saves in the win.

The game remained scoreless until 8:06 into the second period when Kyler Newman drove towards the Saints goal and a scramble ensued. Jack Hamly spotted the loose puck and shoveled it across the line for his sixth of the year to give the MOB a 1-0 lead.

The Saints would tie the game at 15:31 of the period when Brett Smythe threw a behind the back pass to Eric Benshadle who tucked the puck past an outstretched Szudor.

With the MOB dressing just four defencemen, centre Shane Fraser was dropped back for a shift in the second period with Taner Miller in the penalty box. Having the versatile two way centre on the bench was a bit of relief for Coach Keca.

“He can play back if we absolute need him and he did get out there. We actually toyed with playing him on defence for the whole game because we did dress an extra forward but we asked our four defencemen and they said we think we’re okay and we’ll go with four as long as we can,” said Keca on the idea of moving centre Shane Fraser to defence.

Neither team would find the back of the net the rest of the way and the game would head to a shootout. Ian Mitchell and Brett Smythe both scored for the Saints while Brandon Ralph and Ryan Cox missed for the MOB.

The Barons will face another division rival Tuesday night when they head to Bonnyville for the second time this season. The Pontiacs have taken both meetings so far this season. Pre-game show begins at 7:15p.m. on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope.

“They’re a team we haven’t beaten yet and if we plan on getting out of the North Division this year that’s a team we’re going to have to beat,” said Keca.

Written by: Taylor Pope,

Photographer: Dan Lines