The Fort McMurray Oil Barons ran into a red-hot Brooks Bandits team Friday night at the Casman Centre and we’re unable to keep their six game winning streak alive as the Bandits downed the MOB 5-3.
The Bandits (32-11-1) have now won 16 of their last 17 games as they continue to try and catch the South Division leading Okotoks Oilers. For the MOB (31-7-3) the loss was just their second regulation loss at the Casman Centre this season as they fell four points back of the North Division leading Spruce Grove Saints but the MOB still do own three games in hand.
“I thought that we were soft,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca after the game. “They’re the reigning AJHL champions, they play tough from whistle to whistle and they don’t bother looking at the referee or linesman to see if there’s a call or complain, they just go until they hear the whistle.”
Arnaud Vachon broke a 3-3 tie mid-way through the third period after the puck banked off the side of the MOB net and ended up right in the slot. Vachon beat Eric Szudor up high. Jake Theis then ripped a shot off the far goalpost and in after flying down the right wing to give the Bandits all the insurance they would need.
“These are the efforts that we had at the start of the year and when we were winning these games and against certain teams the effort that we put forward today would’ve gotten us points but now you’ve got the upper echelon teams so last week Whitecourt came in here and I thought they manhandled us, Brooks I thought did the same thing,” said Keca.
The Bandits got out to a quick start but it was the Oil Barons who opened the scoring 9:01 into the first period when Jarred White pounced on a Bandit giveaway and deked around Mitchel Benson to tuck home his second goal of the season.
“I thought it was great patience by him on that goal. Goalie bit on it and then he just slid it backhand into an empty net,” said Keca of the goal. “White gives you everything that he can and I know talking to him this week after one of the practices he’s concerned that he’s not putting up the points but we tell our players that we don’t sit there and look at the scoresheet after a game and go ‘you didn’t get any points, you must’ve played poorly’ just like we don’t say ‘you got three secondary assists, you must’ve been an all-star’.” White has had an up and down year, chipping in four points through 12 games played having missed 29 games with injury.
The Bandits responded with a pair of goals from Louis Jamernik to take a 2-1 lead with under three minutes left in the period. The Oil Barons kept coming and would tie the game at the 18:10 mark when Will Conley and Merritt Oszytko hooked up with Shane Fraser in the slot and the captain buried his 14th goal of the year with a quick snap shot through Benson’s legs.
The teams would trade powerplay goals in the second period, both from defencemen. Dennis Cesana ripped home his 11th goal to restore the Bandits one goal lead at 13:44. The goal came just eight seconds into the powerplay.
The MOB were almost able to equal that mark as Curtis Roach deflected in a Taner Miller point shot nine seconds into a Barons powerplay. The goal was Roach’s second of the year and gave the defenceman 10 points in six games since his return from injury.
The Bandits outshot the MOB 36-24 in the game and out chanced the MOB throughout the night as Eric Szudor made several huge saves to keep the game close.
The MOB sported commemorative jerseys in support of the Northern Lights Health Foundation. The jerseys will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to the health foundation. The Barons will wear the jerseys again Saturday night when they take on the Camrose Kodiaks. Bidding on the jerseys will end in the second intermission.
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show.
Written by: Taylor Pope, mymcmurray.com
Photo by: Dan Lines, Fort McMurray Oil Barons
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