FORT McMURRAY, AB (September 20, 2014) – Trent Lofthouse (Surrey, BC) scored four times in his home debut, as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (5-1) defeated the Olds Grizzlys (3-2-1) by a 6-3 score in front of 1,623 fans at the Casman Centre on Saturday night.
The Barons got on the board early, when Lofthouse connected 3:58 into the game, off a feed from Adam Durkee (Nederland, CO). That duo struck again just over eight minutes later, when Lofthouse scored his second of the night, putting the Barons up by two after 20.
Lofthouse picked up where he left off in the second, completing the natural hat-trick 3:23 into the frame. But the goal wasn’t without controversy, as Grizzlys’ goaltender Jordan Piccolino was knocked down in front of his net just before Lofthouse found the back of it.
That seemed to spark the Grizzlys, who got on the board five-and-a-half minutes later on a seeing-eye wrister from rookie defenceman James Miller, the first goal of his AJHL career. And five minutes after that, Josh Zablocki finished off a two-on-one to make it a one goal game.
In the third, the Barons once again connected early on, as Michael Sauer (Bemidji, MN) scored for the first time in his AJHL career, putting the MOB back up by two.
Kyle Moore gave the Barons a scare, when he beat goaltender Zach Fortin (St. Jerome, PQ) to a rebound to make it 4-3.
But with just over a minute remaining, Lofthouse and Mitchell Vanderlaan (Hanwell, NB) added goals seven seconds apart, to give the Barons the 6-3 win.
After the game, Lofthouse talked about how since joining the team last weekend, his expectations have been exceeded.
“I honestly thought I was just going to come in here, work as hard as I could, and hopefully things (would) start popping for me,” he said.
“But I never thought I’d be doing as well as I am, I don’t know what came over me tonight, the puck was just following me around, it was a great thing.”
Head coach Curtis Hunt spoke about how new additions like Lofthouse have helped make for a positive start to the season.
“We knew we had a real good solid base of work ethic, we had a good solid base of skill, we added some pieces and it’s a work in progress,” he said.
“There’s a long road ahead of us. We’re excited about the good things we did tonight, we need to make a few corrections tomorrow, but we’re pleased with the win and the effort.”
Both teams finished the game with 31 shots. Fort McMurray converted on 1 of 3 powerplays, while Olds went 0 for 5.
With the win, the Barons how have 10 points in six games, and are one point back with one game in hand on the North Division-leading Spruce Grove Saints.
For Olds, it’s the second regulation loss in six games, moving them one point behind Drumheller and Camrose, who are tied for the south division lead.
Up next for the Barons, they host the Canmore Eagles at 2:00 on Sunday afternoon. Canmore last played on Tuesday, when they lost 5-4 to the Grizzlys.
KAOS 91.1 3 stars:
3. Michael Sauer (1 goal)
2. Adam Durkee (2 assists)
1. Trent Lofthouse (4 goals)