(Photo Supplied: Okotoks’ Danton Davis in white wrestles with Fort McMurray’s Hayden Ursulak in blue while Craig Domke steps into breakup the scuffle at the Casman Centre on January 30, 2016. Dan Lines / FORT MCMURRAY OIL BARONS)
AUDIO: Oil Barons Head Coach Tom Keca discusses the 3-2 loss to Okotoks on the ROCK 97.9 post-game show.
A good chunk of the 1,619 fans at the Casman Centre Saturday night may have been there for the Dream Home Draw but they were treated to the most entertaining Oil Barons game of the season.
A spectacular effort from Eric Szudor who made 39 saves on 41 shots as he dragged his team all the way to the shootout in a 3-2 loss to Okotoks. The Oil Barons picked up a single point which combined with a Storm loss to Spruce Grove has given the MOB a three point cushion on the final playoff spot in the north division.
The Oil Barons opened the scoring with a Will Conley marker midway through the first period, that would hold until Okotoks popped two straight in the second.
“I wasn’t happy obviously in the second period, we just got caught flat footed. They stretched a guy and just popped pucks to areas and they’re heavy on their sticks,” said Oil Barons Head Coach Tom Keca on the ROCK 97.9 post-game show. “At times I didn’t like our compete level I thought that we took the easy way out a little bit in the second period. As bad as that period was it was still 2-2.”
The Oil Barons were outshot 23-4 in the middle frame as Szudor stood on his head spitting nickels. Even though Oilers were dominating play and managed to grab a one-goal advantage the MOB never backed down.
Jackson McKinstry tied the game at two apiece on the power-play off a wonderful slap pass from Conley with just ten seconds left in the middle stanza. The score would remain deadlocked until the shootout.
“Earlier in the year the feeling on the bench would’ve been ‘uh oh, uh oh, here we go…’ but it wasn’t guys keep battling and we’ve got a lot more vocal guys not only in our room but on our bench and that’s a positive thing to see as a staff.”
Okotoks saw goals from Joe Karpyshyn and Travis Verveda while Connor Chambers notched the shootout winner in the eighth round.
Dylan Rauh and Jackson McKinstry scored in the shootout for McMurray while Ben Sharf, Conley, Brett Edwards, Shawn Weber and Hayden Ursulak along with Tanner Miller all missed.
Oilers scorers other than Chambers in the shootout were Braydon Jenkins and Trey Degraaf. Jordan Davies, Colin O’Neill, Matt McNair, Carter Huber and Karpyshyn all failed to score.
Fort McMurray went one for two on the power-play while Okotoks failed to convert on their lone man-advantage.
The Oil Barons will hit the road Wednesday for a two-game set in Grande Prairie on Thursday and Friday night.
“These are two big games, they’re road games. When you look at it as a three point lead it’s really an opportunity for us to take a stranglehold,” said Keca. “Hopefully we can play a smart tactical game and come out of there with some points.”
Depending on how the Storm do against the Wolverines Sunday afternoon the MOB could be three points up on Grande Prairie with the Storm holding a game in hand by the time the two teams meet on Thursday.