FORT MCMURRAY, AB (November 17, 2012) — The Fort McMurray Oil Barons (12-12-2) returned to the .500 mark and notched their third consecutive win at home Saturday night, dispatching the Camrose Kodiaks 4-2.
“We had every reason to fold the tent, and complain about injuries, and a shortened lineup,” said associate coach Tom Keca, “but our guys didn't, and we found a way.”
The Barons were missing leading scorer Harry Hendrix (Calgary, AB), who had become the latest addition to the injured reserve in the previous night's game, and could only dress 17 players.
“We sat here, and we were a little worried,” Keca admitted, “because when you have such a depleted lineup, you tax those guys that play, and that's when more injuries tend to creep up.”
“But full credit to our guys – that was a gut check, that was a character win.”
It was an inauspicious start to the game with only 4 shots for each team in the first period.
Momentum would quickly swing the MOB's way in the second, however, with the team outshooting the Kodiaks 17-3 and converting on two opportunities.
First, Danny Gayle (Calgary, AB) intercepted a pass from Kodiak captain Nolan Marshall behind the Camrose net, and quickly fed a centring pass in front to Luc Lalor (St. Albert, AB) for a one-timer past goaltender Matt Gibney, to give the Barons the first lead of the game exactly 5 minutes into the period.
“Nolan Marshall's actually one of my decent buddies,” Gayle joked after the game. “We played together in U16 and roomed together, so maybe he just made eye contact with me and decided to give me an assist.”
“I don't know what he was doing there, but I'll take it.”
Lalor returned the favour to Gayle on an Oil Barons power play at the 17:11 mark, when his shot from the left-wing face-off circle resulted in a net-front scramble that Gayle converted on to double the MOB lead.
“They don't ask how they go in, but how many, and those are definitely some goals that I'm going to have to bear down on and score, because we're obviously not blowing teams out,” said Gayle. “Just getting greasy out front where a lot of rebounds are, and if I can put a couple of those away, that's definitely going to help us win games.”
By the third, fatigue was clearly becoming an issue for the short-staffed Barons, and the Kodiaks turned the tide on the shot count with a 14-8 advantage.
The visitors finally beat Tanner Jaillet (Red Deer, AB) 3:45 into the third when Nolan Marshall won a face-off to Cam Gotaas, who one-timed a shot that Jaillet got a piece of, but which slipped behind him and slowly rolled over the goal line to make the score 2-1.
But two of the MOB's American rookies made the difference in the middle of the final frame.
First, Adam Durkee (Lafayette, CO) extended his point streak to three games when he received a dropback pass from Kevin Lacroix (St. Albert, AB) at the left-wing face-off circle and one-timed a shot past Gibney to reclaim the two goal lead.
Scott Pooley (Granger, IN) provided the insurance goal on a 3-on-2 rush when he carried the puck in along the left wing and fired a right-handed wrister far side on Gibney, ringing it off the outside post and into the back of the net for a 4-1 lead.
“They've started playing better since the election was over,” Keca chuckled. “Adam is an individual we expect is going to be a goal scorer eventually.”
“I think Scott is your classic example of an individual that's getting his feet underneath him, he's understanding what the Canadian game is.”
The Kodiaks came closer at the 14:12 mark when Trevor Costello banked a bad-angle shot in from the right side of the net, but couldn't create any pressure late and fell by the 4-2 final.
“We switched our forecheck, obviously, to 1-2-2, and our guys did a good job of clogging up the neutral zone,” said Keca. “On the bench, at least myself, you don't have that feeling that they were ever going to tie it up. We have that resiliency that we talk about, and our players didn't allow that goal against to faze us, when maybe a couple of weeks ago it would've.”
Jaillet stopped 17 of 19 shots for his second consecutive win, while Gibney saved 17 of 21. The Barons went 1 for 2 on their powerplay, while only allowing one man advantage to the visitors, which the PK unit successfully killed off.
The Barons have another full week of practice ahead before they host the Sherwood Park Crusaders at 8 o'clock on Friday night for the first of two straight games.
“It's going to be a matter of looking at some game tape, trying to get healthy,” said Keca. “Sherwood Park is another divisional opponent for us, a team that we want to catch, so it should be an exciting week of preparation for us, and hopefully an exciting weekend.”
Pre-game radio coverage on Friday starts at 7:45 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Tanner Jaillet (17 saves on 19 shots)
2. Luc Lalor (1 goal, 1 assist)
1. Danny Gayle (1 goal, 1 assist)