FORT MCMURRAY, AB (November 30, 2013) — Luc Lalor (St. Albert, AB) scored two goals and set up the game-winner as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons came back to beat the Grande Prairie Storm 3-2 in Fort McMurray on Saturday night.
Lalor was playing in just his second game back from a lengthy absence due to injury, and had only been practicing with the team for less than a week. He's now recorded 2 goals and 2 assists in just those first two games.
The annual Teddy Bear Toss night at the Casman Centre got underway when Lalor opened the scoring at 6:59 of the first, just as a Barons power play expired. A shot from the blue line ricocheted off a skate to Lalor at the right-wing faceoff circle, who fed a low shot between the pads of Storm goalie Jacob Suppes for a 1-0 lead.
But in the second, the Storm took their first lead of the season over the MOB. First, a long point shot by Allan MacPherson found its way past Jesse Gordichuk (Penticton, BC), and minutes later Ryan Baskerville fed a close-range shot into the top-left corner to make it 2-1 Grande Prairie.
In that middle stanza, Barons alternate captain Zach Wittenburg (Chestermere, AB) left the game after being checked hard into the corner boards from a lengthy distance, on an unpenalized play. The team later announced it resulted in a shoulder injury that will keep the MOB defenceman out for 4 to 6 weeks.
In the third period, despite the short bench, and a wide discrepancy in power play time favouring the Storm with two lengthy five-on-three opportunities, the Barons cued a comeback.
Just under halfway through the frame, Kevin Miller (Stony Plain, AB) carried in along the left wing on a two-on-one, and fed a perfect pass across to Lalor, whose one-time goal rocketed into the back of the Storm net to tie the game up.
The near-capacity crowd of more than 1,700 would come to their feet with a playoff-style reaction minutes later, when Lalor fed a pass away from two Storm defenders in the high slot, to Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB), who was all alone in front of Suppes, and able to make a backhand-to-forehand deke, lifting the puck over the goaltender's right pad for the game-winning goal.
At the other end of the ice, Gordichuk made 33 saves on 35 shots to preserve his undefeated start to his AJHL career.
The Barons hit the road next weekend to finish off their South division trips; on Friday night they'll be at the Max Bell Centre in Calgary for a game against new MOB defenceman Curtis Lewington's old team, the Canucks.
Game time is 7:00 PM.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
1. Luc Lalor (2 goals, 1 assist)
2. Jesse Gordichuk (33 saves/35 shots)
3. Jacob Suppes (23 saves/26 shots)