GRANDE PRAIRIE, AB (February 1, 2013) — For the first time in nearly three years, the Grande Prairie Storm did not lose to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, instead downing them in a shootout by a 2-1 score at the Canada Games Arena on Friday night.
The loss snaps a 21-game winning streak by the Barons against G.P., dating back to game 3 of the second round of the 2010 playoffs.
Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB) and Tanner Labbe scored the only goals of regulation, while Ryan Matthews scored the only shootout goal, in what quickly became a goaltending duel.
The Barons opened the scoring just 1:24 in when Hayden Dawes (Stony Plain, AB) sprung linemate Kevin Miller (Stony Plain, AB) on a 2-on-1 – Miller fed a cross-ice pass to Houcher, who one-timed it past a sprawling Nick Kulmanovsky for the opening goal.
It would be the only time the MOB would solve the Fairbanks, Alaska native, as Kulmanovsky saved 20 of 21 shots the whole way.
Grande Prairie's tying goal came in the middle of a dominant second period where they outshot the Barons 15-4. On their first powerplay, Labbe fired a shot from the top of the right-wing face-off circle that beat Jaillet through a screen to knot the game up.
It would also be the only blemish on another outstanding performance for Jaillet, who stopped 36 of 37 shots through regulation and overtime, including some stellar point blank and one-timer saves.
Soon after Labbe's goal, Storm defenceman Drew Nikirk dropped the gloves with MOB forward Adam Wilcox (Alpharetta, GA) for a lengthy fight that Nikirk had the clear edge in.
In the third period, Sasha Larocque looked to have tied the game with a hard wrist shot from the high slot on a powerplay, but the puck hit the crossbar, bounced straight down onto the goal line, and deflected out of the crease.
The Barons hoped to extend their perfect record in the shootout – 5-0 with no goals allowed – but it was not to be. In the second round, Ryan Matthews beat Jaillet through the five-hole, and while he successfully stopped both Labbe and Gus Correale in the extra frame, the Barons couldn't support their netminder, as Jetlan Houcher lost control of the puck, Adam Durkee's shot was deflected wide, and Kevin Miller's last-chance backhander was snagged by Kulmanovsky's glove for a huge win in front of more than 2,000 fans.
By getting the point, the Barons move into 4th place in the AJHL North and have gotten points out of 7 of the 8 games since the trade deadline.
They're back in action tomorrow night at the Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove, taking on the struggling first-place Saints.
Puck drop is 7:00 with pre-game coverage at 6:45 on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
3. Tanner Labbe (1 goal)
2. Nick Kulmanovsky (20 saves, 21 shots)
1 Tanner Jaillet (36 saves, 37 shots)