On paper it looked like a pretty good Thanksgiving weekend at home for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. The MOB picked up a pair of wins and five out of a possible six points during a three game homestand to improve their record to 7-1-1 where they sit alone atop the North Division.
The Barons finished off the weekend with a 2-1 shootout win over the Bonnyville Pontiacs Monday afternoon at the Casman Centre but despite the win, there were glaring errors and miscues that could’ve easily reversed that score and saw the MOB blown away by their north division rivals if it were not for the play of their goaltender Chris Curr.
“There’s no reason for our players to be tired and I felt we could’ve given a better effort all around and thank goodness for Mr. Curr because he was by far the best player on the ice today,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca.
Making his third start of the season, Curr kicked out 33 Pontiac shots including six in overtime as the Pontiacs outshot the MOB 6-1 in the extra frame. Curr then put on a clinic in the shootout, stopping 8 of 9 Bonnyville shooters.
“Technically he’s very very sound and he’s a hard working kid, he’s a great kid and the strength from our team should be from the back end out and with (Eric) Szudor there and you can throw Chris (Curr) in, in these instances and still get two points I think speaks volumes for the tandem we have this year,” said Keca on his goaltending tandem this season that has bailed out their teammates multiple times in the teams first nine games.
The Barons opened the scoring for a third straight game when Will Conley flew off the bench and pounced on a puck at the top of the face-off circle. Conley slid to the middle of the ice and fired a shot past Sandro Silvestre for his 8th goal of the year.
The goal was all the MOB could muster and it allowed the Pontiacs (4-5-1) to hang around and wait for their opportunity which came early in the third period off a Barons turnover.
PJ Marrocco hunted down an errand pass and ripped a shot that bounced off Curr. The rebound bounced around before the puck found Marrocco at the side of the goal and he was able to tie the game 1-1.
“We’re 7-1-1 and everybody thinks it’s great but it’s not great because this is the second time in three games that we’ve given up a lead in the third period,” said a frustrated Keca. “We had a veteran guy that didn’t skate for the puck and passed it back to nobody. Not that it was a bad pass but nobody was there and it’s frustrating and it leaves you as a coach scratching your head.”
The two teams traded chances late and throughout the overtime period but both goaltenders came up big for their clubs. Derek Brown opened the scoring in the shootout for the Pontiacs as he undressed Curr with a slick move. Ryan Cox would tie up the shootout for the MOB, beating Silvestre five hole. The Goaltenders then went save for save until defenceman JC Thivierge beat Silvestre five hole with a quick move to the forehand to put the MOB out in front.
Pontiacs captain Charlie Gawlicki looked to force another round but his shot went off Curr’s glove, off the crossbar and over the net to give the MOB the 2-1 victory.
“Unfortunately I think we’re just a bit too selective on when we want to work hard, when we want to skate, we need pucks on the stick, we don’t want to go after, we don’t bang and crash so now we have to go back and look at the game tapes and go okay where are we at?” said Keca on the Barons inconsistent play this season.
The MOB will head south this week for their first three in three of the season. The MOB take on the Canmore Eagles Thursday, the undefeated Okotoks Oilers Friday before finishing off the trip in Olds against the Grizzlys on Saturday.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
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