SPRUCE GROVE, AB (September 28, 2013) — The Fort McMurray Oil Barons (9-0) extended their league-leading winning streak to nine games, and swept their two games at the AJHL Showcase weekend in Spruce Grove, with their best offensive output of the season; an 8-2 thrashing of the Calgary Mustangs (4-6).
With the win, the Barons tied the 2005-06 Spruce Grove Saints for fourth-longest season-opening winning streak in league history.
12 different skaters registered points on the night for the Barons, while 6 had multi-point performances.
Despite being outshot 30-23 on the night, the MOB got a 28-save performance by rookie goalie Jesse Gordichuk (Penticton, BC) to earn the win, and never looked back after a 4-goal first period.
That offensive explosion began with a Mitchell Byrne (Onaping, ON) shorthanded breakaway 8:47 into the game. Despite being harangued by two Mustang defenders from behind, Byrne battled his way into the slot and beat goalie Ravi Dattani with a backhand shot to open the scoring.
At the 13:23 mark, rookie forward Danton Ayotte (Wetaskiwin, AB) scored his second career goal with a turnaround shot in the slot; a marker later followed up with Byrne's second of the night at 18:35, a backdoor one-timer set up by the perfect cross-crease pass by Mitchell Vanderlaan (Hanwell, NB).
Less than a minute later, Adam Durkee (Lafeyette, CO) converted a pass in front by Hayden Dawes (Stony Plain, AB) to give the MOB a commanding 4-0 lead through one.
In the second, the MOB extended the lead to five when Ayotte converted on a scramble at the side of the Mustang net for his second of the night at 3:09. Minutes later, Alex Cromwell (McKinney, TX) dropped the gloves with Dustin Cave of the Mustangs, for a lengthy tilt in which Cromwell landed the majority of blows.
With the MOB on a power-play, a shorthanded two on one rush by the Mustangs resulted in a great save by Gordichuk off a Carson McCormick shot; but Connor Collett tapped in the rebound to get the Mustangs on the board and end the shutout bid.
In the third period, the Mustangs began to claim some momentum, earning a power-play less than a minute into the frame, and converting less than two minutes in off of a Phelan Shaw point shot that was tipped by Joe Serpico to narrow the deficit to 5-2.
It was as close as the Mustangs would come, however.
The Barons power-play, which had gone 0-for-2 to that point in the game, put the match out of reach. First, on a 5-on-3, Brett McNeil (Halifax, NS) scored his first junior A goal on a slap shot from the top of the left-wing faceoff circle at 9:26. On the ensuing 5-on-4, Adam Durkee's pass in front of the Mustang net was shot wide by John Teets (Fairbanks, AK), but the rebound came to captain Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB), who roofed a puck from the side of the net to claim a 7-2 lead, only 43 seconds after McNeil's goal.
Durkee set up Houcher again just over three minutes later, at the 13:47 mark, on a perfect cross-crease pass that Houcher one-timed in for an 8-2 MOB lead.
The Barons will now try to make the season-opening win streak reach double digits tomorrow afternoon against the Lloydminster Bobcats at 2:30.
With a win, the MOB can tie the franchise record for season-opening consecutive wins, set back in 1999.
Pre-game coverage begins at 2:15 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
1. Mitchell Byrne (2 goals)
2. Danton Ayotte (2 goals)
3. Alex Cromwell (2 assists)