For a second straight series, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons dropped the opening game and knew they needed to be better in Game 2.
Saturday in Sherwood Park, the Oil Barons were exactly that as they hammered the Crusaders every chance they got and earned a hard fought 4-2 win to tie up the series at a game a piece.
“The message that I told our players (after the game) is that it’s a great effort when you can’t single out one or two guys,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca “It was a group effort.”
The MOB pressured the Crusaders defence all night and were able to create several turnovers that would lead to a couple of their goals.
After a strong forecheck from Chad MacLean and Tyson Scott, the puck found its way to Ryan Conroy who had joined the attack. Conroy undressed the Crusader defenceman at the side of the goal before he sent a backhand over the shoulder of Matt Berlin for the MOB’s first goal of the series.
The Crusaders were able to respond before the period was out when a shot from the boards was stopped by Chris Curr but the rebound popped right to Jack Hamly standing in front. Hamly tucked the puck around Curr to strike against his former team and tie the game 1-1.
Some more pressure down low by the Oil Barons in the second period led to them taking their second lead of the game. This time it was Nathan Carl who started the attack and got the puck to Scott. The former Crusader picked up his second assist of the game as he fed MacLean in front of the goal and he deked around Berlin to stuff home his first goal of the playoffs.
“We got great minutes from Nathan Carl’s line and we challenged Chad MacLean’s line and they were plus two tonight and Scott gets two points tonight,” said Keca on the play of his depth players stepping up in Game 2.
Saturday’s game was very chippy at times and saw several big hits that led to skirmishes after the whistle. The MOB took an early penalty to start the third period and the Crusaders were able to capitalize when Garrett Clegg tapped in a loose puck 25 seconds into the period to tie the game 2-2.
Needing a spark, the Oil Barons turned to their spark plug who is Jarred White. Chasing after William Zapernick, White slammed him into the end boards and had his own helmet launch through the air from the impact.
The Oil Barons then headed to the powerplay moments later and were able to strike and retake the lead when White scored on a rebound off a Liam Izyk shot.
“If we wanted to recruit kids to the North Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League you just show them a picture of Jarred White,” said Keca on White who has elevated his game to another level in the playoffs. “He is a tank and he’s one of those guys who’s not the biggest guy stature wise but he has that wide stance, low center of gravity and he hits like a truck.”
Curr shut the door the rest of the way and White sealed the victory with an empty net goal after some great work by Jaedon Leslie in the Crusaders end to kill out the clock and create another turnover.
“He’s such an honest player and he’s going to give you everything he’s got and we’re so fortunate to have him on our side and there’s no coincidence that when we’re successful here down the stretch that it’s in large part because he’s the one driving the bus,” said Keca of White who now has four goals in the post-season and has a point in five of six playoff games.
The series now shifts to Fort McMurray for games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday as the Oil Barons did what they needed to do after being shutout in Game 1.
Tickets can be purchased at the Casman Centre box office or online. Puck drop for both games is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 post-game show.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
Photo by: Dan Lines