By Robert Murray
Fort McMurray Today
In all fairness to the Whitecourt Wolverines, they haven't seen Adam Wilcox in game-action since last March.
The Georgia hockey product, who only recently made his return to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons lineup, scored his first goal since Jan. 4, 2013 Wednesday night in a 4-3 victory over the Wolverines at the Scott Safety Centre in Whitecourt.
“The bench exploded, the coaches were over the moon obviously,” said MOB head coach Gord Thibodeau.
“He's worked extremely hard to get himself back in this position and to have him contribute right away is awesome. It's definitely more than we expected but we're definitely happy he's feeling good enough that he can our there and help this team win and I know he's going to be a big part of this team moving forward.”
Jesse Gordichuk got the emergency start in net as the rookie posted his second victory in as many nights, filling in for starter Tanner Jaillet who came down with a case of the flu before the game.
Just like Tuesday's game, Wednesday's victory didn't come easily. Whitecourt battled the Oil Barons for 60 minutes and took the lead in the first after Ryan Berlin cleaned things up at the net, whacking away at a puck Gordichuk thought he had before it went in.
Continuing a hot streak that had seen him post five points in his pervious three games, forward Brennan Saulnier delivered again, notching the first goal for the Oil Barons in the game to pull them even less than a minute into what would be an eventua second period
Following an Alex Cromwell goal, Jordan Davies responded for the Wolverines to knot the game at two goals a piece.
From there the scoring ceased for almost eight minutes. With the teams poised to head into the third deadlocked at two, a point shot from Louis Joseph Sawyer was finished by Ryan Bloom, who notched his 170th career Junior A point in his 170th Junior A game.
Now in a comfortable position, the MOB forced the play into Whitecourt's zone late in the period. Following a whack at the puck from Kaiden Tobin, the puck bounced to a wide open Wilcox who buried home his first goal in over a year. Colten Mayor would respond for Wolverines early in the third but the MOB would hang on and get the win, with Wilcox getting the game-winning goal.
“I thought we did some real good things yesterday after a sloppy first,” said Thibodeau.
“Today we weren't great in the first but we were certainly better than yesterday and we were outstanding in the second so we really brought our game in the second and played pretty well for most of the third.
“Anytime you win on the road in the North, you know that you've got to work hard to deserve those wins and we did.”
The victory kept the Oil Barons atop the Alberta Junior Hockey League with a record of 34-5-3, three points clear of the Spruce Grove Saints in the race for the North Division lead.
The MOB will now return home to face the Sherwood Park Crusaders at the Casman Centre for the first time this year after the MOB split the first two games of the season series at the Sherwood Park Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday Jan. 12.