FORT McMURRAY, AB (August 22, 2014) – The Fort McMurray Oil Barons got five goals from five different goal scorers en route to a 5-4 preseason-opening win over the Bonnyville Pontiacs at the Casman Centre on Friday night.
The MOB jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back, despite a 40-22 shot margin against the home side.
The Barons opened the scoring when sophomore forward Mitch Vanderlaan (Hanwell, NB) scored on the rush with a wrist shot from the left-wing faceoff circle that rang the iron and set off the siren at the Casman for the first time in the 2014-15 season.
With just one second left in the period, the Barons doubled the lead when third-year forward Adam Wilcox (Alpharetta, GA) snuck a short-side shot past the Bonnyville goaltender from the right-wing corner of the Pontiacs zone.
In the second, it would be Wilcox sparking the Barons’ third consecutive goal when his centering pass found Brett McNeil (Halifax, NS) who picked the top-left corner from the slot to make it 3-0. The play gave both McNeil, who had assisted on Vanderlaan’s opener, and Wilcox, a two-point night.
The Pontiacs began to swing the momentum later in the second period when a Steenn Pasichnuk wrist shot from the right-wing circle beat Barons goalie Jesse Gordichuk (Penticton, BC), as did a long wrist shot from the same circle by Erik Donald a few minutes later.
But MOB captain Jetlan Houcher (Paradise Valley, AB) quickly reclaimed a two-goal cushion for the MOB with a breakaway backhand goal off of an Adam Durkee (Nederland, CO) pass to make it 4-2.
However, Braiden Doucette replied for Bonnyville with a point shot off of a late faceoff that was deflected past new MOB goalie Zac Fortin (St. Jerome, PQ) to narrow the deficit to just 1 goal at the end of the second period.
The Barons scored their fifth in the third period when Jordan Xavier (Calgary, AB) tipped a pass from the corner by local product Estian Coetzee (Fort McMurray, AB) who had in turn received the puck from fellow McMurrayite Blake Cartwright (Fort McMurray, AB). Xavier’s deflection from below the right hashmarks found the back of the net for the rookie’s first goal as a Baron.
Though the Pontiacs managed to net a fourth goal off of a net front scramble, that was as close as they would get, as the Barons held on for the 5-4 victory.
The pre-season continues for the Oil Barons tomorrow night when the MOB takes on the Pontiacs in Bonnyville at 7:30.