WHITECOURT, AB (February 18, 2015) – The Fort McMurray Oil Barons came back from a 3-goal deficit on Wednesday night, defeating the Whitecourt Wolverines by a 4-3 overtime score at the Scott Safety Centre.
Adam Durkee (Nederland, CO) led the way with two goals, including the overtime winner, while Logan Franz (Medicine Hat, AB) and Austin Holmes (Calgary, AB) also contributed to the comeback.
The win moved the Barons into third place in the AJHL North division, just one point back of second-place Lloydminster and one point ahead of fourth place Bonnyville, with all three teams having four games left to play in the season.
The Barons began the game with strong shifts and scoring chances but were stymied early by Whitecourt goaltender Tanner McCorriston. The Wolverines opened the scoring at the 4:49 mark when Trace Elson fired a shot from the slot past Barons goalie Zach Fortin (St. Jerome, PQ). The Barons would end up needing to kill off three penalties in the first period as well, and were outshot 12-7 as a result.
In the second, Whitecourt outshot the MOB 14-7 and extended the lead, first just 75 seconds into the period on a Joseph Nardi goal from the front of the net, and then at 15:13 on a wrist shot from the slot by Romano Morrison.
But with only 1:55 left in the second, Franz got the Barons on the board when a centering pass by captain Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB) rolled slowly into the Whitecourt slot, where the sophomore forward collected the puck, spun, and fired a quick shot past McCorriston to make it 3-1.
In the third, the Oil Barons dominated, outshooting the Wolverines 10-4. 4:44 into the frame, Durkee charged to the front of the net and had a puck deflect off of McCorriston, then off of Durkee’s skate and into the back of the Whitecourt net to pull the MOB to within 1.
Then with just under 5 minutes to go in regulation, Mitch Vanderlaan (Hanwell, NB) feathered a pass in front from the right halfboards that Holmes was able to tip home at the top of the crease for the dramatic game-tying goal.
In overtime, both teams traded chances, as McCorriston stopped Luc Lalor (St. Albert, AB) on a clear-cut breakaway in the extra frame. But 3:37 in, Durkee once again charged to the front of the Whitecourt net and flung a backhand shot top shelf past McCorriston to notch the extra point for the Barons and send the team streaming off the bench to mob Durkee at centre ice.
“Going into the third, we knew we just had to play our game, and I think we came out really strong as a team and got on it right away,” said Durkee. “To be able to help the team out with a couple of goals, it always feels great, so for me personally it’s definitely one of my better games and hopefully I can keep it up going into playoffs here.”
“A great start with great chances, and then it’s the turnover show, the perimeter show, the one-on-one show, the bail out on hits show, and next thing you know you’re chasing the game,” recalled head coach Curtis Hunt. “In the third period – I really believe with our group, when we work and compete and play as a team, we have a chance to beat any team in this league. It just looked like enough guys cared, and whenever enough guys care you’re going to have success.”
“Enough guys cared about the right thing – and that’s the team.”
The Oil Barons will have two days off in the middle of their final road trip before completing their away schedule with Saturday and Sunday games in Drayton Valley against the Thunder.
Saturday night’s puck drop is at 7:30 with pre-game coverage on the Oil Barons’ radio home, KAOS 91.1, beginning at 7:15.
KAOS 91.1 3 stars:
1. Adam Durkee (2 goals)
2. Trace Elson (1 goal)
3. Austin Holmes (1 goal)