WATCH: Oil Barons fall at home for first time, 5-4 to Canmore

FORT McMURRAY, AB (September 21, 2014) — The Fort McMurray Oil Barons (5-2) fell just short of a weekend home sweep on Sunday afternoon, falling at the Casman Centre for the first time this season by a 5-4 final to the Canmore Eagles.

The Barons got off to a spectacular start, with a 21-7 shot lead through just the opening twenty minutes.

Rookie forward Jackson McKinstry (Calgary, AB) scored his first junior A goal just over three minutes into the game, set up by Mike Sauer (Bemidji, MN) on a pass from behind the Canmore net. But only 26 seconds later, the Eagles scored on their first shot of the game, a backdoor pass to Ryley Risling that beat Jesse Gordichuk (Penticton, BC), whose night would soon end.

Before the period was a quarter of the way finished, Gordichuk ventured behind his net on a routine play to corral a puck that the Eagles had dumped in. Appearing to catch a rut in the ice, Gordichuk spun around and fell awkwardly, staying down for an extended period of time. Emergency medical personnel were called in, and the Barons’ goaltender evacuated on a stretcher. 

Zach Fortin (St. Jerome, PQ) came in to relieve Gordichuk, playing for the second straight night, and the Barons were presented with a go-ahead opportunity off of another heart-stopping play, when veteran Barons defenceman Zach Wittenburg (Chestermere, AB) was run into the end boards from behind by Canmore veteran Ashton McLeod, who received a major penalty and game misconduct. Wittenburg was helped off the ice but returned after the first intermission.

Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB) converted on the ensuing power play to give him his eighth goal of the early season and give the Barons a 2-1 lead.

In the second, Adam Wilcox (Alpharetta, GA) jammed a rebound of a Salvatore Scalise (Calgary, AB) point shot past rookie Canmore goalie Levi Nelson to extend the MOB lead to 2. But late in the second, the Eagles notched two quick long range goals through screens in front of Fortin to knot the game at 3-3.

Early in the third, another Oil Baron found the back of the net for the first time in his junior A career, as Jordan Xavier (Calgary, AB) snuck a backhand shot past Nelson to reclaim a 4-3 Barons lead.

It would take Canmore only 41 seconds to respond, when a Lane Olson shot off a faceoff deflected in the air, over the glove of Fortin, and into the Barons net for a 4-4 score.

The Eagles controlled much of the remaining third period, outshooting the Barons 12-7, and finding the winning goal with just 1:09 on the clock, when Connor Wilson found a loose puck during a scramble in front of the Barons’ net and deposited a high shot past Fortin to secure the 5-4 final score.

“You get a 3-1 lead in your building, and you’ve got to have the killer instinct,” said Barons head coach and general manager Curtis Hunt. “A couple of unfortunate bounces, and unfortunate calls, but that’s the way it goes.”

“We got what we earned tonight,” he added.

The Barons will play their next five straight games on the road, starting Wednesday night in Bonnyville for the first of 6 matches against the Pontiacs, before departing to Spruce Grove for the annual AJHL Showcase with matches against Okotoks and the Calgary Canucks.

Game time in Bonnyville is 7:30, with pre-game coverage starting at 7:15 on KAOS 91.1.

KAOS 91.1 3 stars:
3. Jackson McKinstry (1 goal)
2. Simon Philp (1 goal, 2 assists)
1. Connor Wilson (2 goals, 1 assist)