Stafford the OT hero as MOB tie series with Storm

Brendan Stafford scored 35 seconds into overtime Friday night at the Casman Centre to lift the Fort McMurray Oil Barons to a 2-1 win in Game 2 as they tied their best-of-five first round series against the Grande Prairie Storm at a game a piece.

“We told our players in the intermission going into overtime that somebody in the room is a hero and that’s the reason why you play,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca.

The Oil Barons had thought they won the game to end the third period when Taner Miller threw a puck on goal that beat Kaeden Lane right at the buzzer. The goal was waved off despite the Oil Barons pleading that the puck crossed the line prior to the buzzer.

The MOB didn’t let the disallowed goal get the best of them as they scored just seconds into the extra frame. Kole Gable chased down a puck in the Storm’s zone and passed to Reed Morison. Morison danced around the Storm defender before firing a shot off the end glass. The puck bounced to Stafford who spun and fired a shot along the ice that slipped through the legs of Lane to give the MOB a well deserved win.

“You have to stay focused and whether it was in or it wasn’t it was a bang bang play and you can’t worry about it,” said Keca on the waved off goal. “The referees made their call and you just keep moving on, you can’t worry about what happened ten seconds ago.”

After the Storm took Game 1 by a 4-2 score, they were determined to steal both games from the MOB before the series shifted back to Grande Prairie. The Storm opened the scoring off an odd-man rush that saw Zach Okabe find a streaking Xavier Pouliot. The big defenceman snapped a shot off the right goal post and in 11 minutes into the game.

The Oil Barons pushed back in the second and third period but were unable to find an equalizer as the Storm hung on to their one goal lead.

“I give full credit to Grande Prairie and the way that they’re playing. They make it very hard to get to the front of their net but I thought that we were resilient and relentless in the third period and you just felt the tide, you felt it was going to come and we got rewarded by a little bit of hardwork,” said Keca of the MOB who out shot the Storm 29-24 in the game. 

Late in the third period, Jarred White came off the Oil Barons bench as the puck got rimmed around the boards in the Storm zone. White picked it up at the left point and walked in and blasted a shot through the five-hole of Lane to tie the game 1-1 with 4:04 left on the clock.

“He’s an honest player and the hockey gods reward honest players,” said Keca of White who has goals in back to back games to open the series. “He’s a tough son of a gun and he’s very strong on his feet, we’re very lucky to have him, he’s been a great player for us this year.”

The Oil Barons killed off a late Storm powerplay in the third period before winning the game in overtime. The series now shifts to Grande Prairie for Game 3 on Sunday, Game 4 will be on Monday. You can listen to both games on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope beginning with the pre-game show at 7:15 p.m.

MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 post-game show.

Written by: Taylor Pope,

Photo by: Dan Lines