BONNYVILLE, AB (September 24, 2014) – Zach Fortin (St. Jerome, PQ) made 42 saves and Jetlan Houcher scored the game-winner shorthanded in the third period, as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (6-2) came back to defeat the Bonnyville Pontiacs (3-2-1) by 2-1 final on the road Wednesday night.
The Barons trailed early after Brady Bakke scored on a breakaway goal with just over seven minutes left in the first. It would be the only blemish on Fortin’s night, as he didn’t allow a single subsequent goal.
The tying goal came with just 20 seconds left in the second period, when Barons forward Mitch Vanderlaan (Hanwell, NB) found himself on a breakaway, but was tripped up by a Pontiac before getting a shot away. Vanderlaan was awarded a penalty shot, and snapped a quick wrist shot between the pads of Bonnyville goalie Reid Kilburn to snap the Pontiacs’ team shutout streak at more than 180 minutes and tie the game heading into the second intermission.
In the third, the MOB’s penalty kill shone when captain Jetlan Houcher picked off a cross-ice pass, and skated in on a breakaway of his own, putting a wrist shot past Kilburn for the eventual game-winning goal.
The Barons were outshot 33-18 through the first two periods, and 43-22 overall in the game.
“Fortin was obviously a real bright spot tonight in the way he played,” said head coach Curtis Hunt of his goalie’s 42-save performance. “Beyond that, the first two periods, what a trainwreck. Things we covered just two days ago, we weren’t even close on.”
“I thought we really got composed in the third, though, and we were able to keep them to the outside,” he added. “We did a better job in the d-zone, and did a real good job of boxing out.”
The Barons went 0-for-2 on their power play but were a perfect 3-for-3 on their penalty kill, which continues to lead the league.
The MOB has an off-day on the road Thursday before heading to Spruce Grove for the annual AJHL Showcase. They play the Okotoks Oilers at 7 PM on Friday and the Calgary Canucks at 12 noon on Saturday.
The only broadcast outlet for both games will be KAOS 91.1 radio, with pre-game coverage beginning 15 minutes before game time.
NOTES: Before Wednesday’s game, the Oil Barons released forward Aaron Ryback, reducing the roster back to 22. The Barons’ penalty kill percentage now sits at a whopping 95.8%; the team is 23 for 24. Houcher’s game-winning goal was his ninth of the season; no one else in the league has more than 6. Houcher also leads the league in game-winning goals (3) and is second in power play goals (4).