FORT MCMURRAY, AB (November 9, 2013) — Jesse Gordichuk (Penticton, BC) made 27 saves to drop his goals against average below 1 and register his third shutout of his rookie season, as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (20-1-2) held an opponent off the scoresheet for the sixth time this year, downing the Calgary Canucks 5-0 at the Casman Centre on Saturday night.
With the shutout, Gordichuk improved his record to 7-0 and his shutout streak to 186 minutes and 32 seconds, while the Barons maintained their 3-point division lead on Spruce Grove with a game in hand.
“He was solid,” said head coach and GM Gord Thibodeau of his goalie. “There wasn't a lot of scoring chances against him; I thought defensively we were pretty good again, but he was solid when he needed to be, made 2 or 3 big stops in the third there to pitch the shutout.”
One night after snapping a 12-game goalless streak with a 2-goal performance, Adam Durkee (Lafayette, CO) provided the opening spark for the second straight game, lighting the lamp 8:54 into the first period off a shot from the right-wing faceoff circle set up by linemate Hayden Dawes (Stony Plain, AB).
The Barons doubled their lead on their first power play of the night, when an Austin Yadlowski (Edmonton, AB) point shot ricocheted off of a Canuck defender's stick, up in the air, and was batted down by Alex Cromwell (McKinney, TX) into the Canuck net to snap his 18-game goal drought.
“He did a great job, I thought, this weekend, and he's played well all the way through,” said Thibodeau. “Whether he was scoring or not, that's not how we judge his game. So, it's obviously nice that he scored tonight, and hopefully that'll continue, but he's a big part of this team.”
The second period remained scoreless until the final two minutes, when a power play one-time slapshot by John Teets (Fairbanks, AK) rocketed past Canuck goaltender Adin Hill to give the Barons a 3-0 lead.
Then in the third, the Barons added two more; the first a Danton Ayotte (Wetaskiwin, AB) one-timer off of a perfect 2-on-1 rush setup by Ryan Bloom (Calgary, AB). With that assist, Bloom became the uncontested leading scorer in the AJHL with 32 points, and a league-leading 24 assists.
Finally, on a late power-play, captain Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB) fed a perfect cross-ice pass from the right circle to Kevin Miller (Stony Plain, AB) at the left hashmarks, whose quick deflection beat Hill for the 5-0 final score.
The power play went 3 for 5 on the night, propelling the Barons into the number one spot on the man advantage in the AJHL at 21.8%.
“I thought we did a real good job of puck movement, even on the ones we didn't score on,” said Thibodeau. “But we got some shots through, and I thought that was a key. Teets got a good shot off, Yadlowski on Cromwell's goal – if you get the puck through, you're going to get rewarded and tonight we had a lot of traffic down low at the net, so it made it very difficult for their goaltender to see anything coming from the point.”
The Barons now have a full week of practice before returning to North division hockey with a road trip to Bonnyville and Sherwood Park next Friday and Saturday.
“We're going to see two different style teams,” said Thibodeau. “We have to up our pace more than we did tonight. Then, it's tough in the north to play on the road, let's face it. Bonnyville's a tough building that hasn't been kind to us, and Sherwood Park, whenever we get there, it seems like it's one of those dogfight-type games where it's going to come down to the last minute.”
Friday's game starts at 7:00 PM with pre-game coverage at 6:45 PM on Country 93.3.
Country 93.3 3 stars:
1. Jesse Gordichuk (27 save shutout)
2. Ryan Bloom (2 assists)
3. Alex Cromwell (1 goal)