(Photo Supplied: Oil Barons defenceman Jordan Steenbergen drives to the goal against the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Dec. 3, 2015 at the Casman Centre. Dan Lines / FORT MCMURRAY OIL BARONS)
Audio: Oil Barons Head Coach Tom Keca discusses the 5-2 loss
Even though they lost by a 5-2 score to the Bonnvyille Pontiacs Friday night, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons still managed to secure a post-season berth thanks to a Whitecourt victory over Grande Prairie.
“I want us to earn our way which means we’ve got to get points, disappointed today with our effort at times,” said Oil Barons Head Coach Tom Keca on the ROCK 97.9 post-game show. “While I liked parts of our game today, I thought that we tried to do a good job of keeping them to the outside of the neutral zone, there were just parts where again we have brain cramps and we end up fishing out pucks from the back of our net and it’s frustrating.”
As he did the Friday previous at the RJ Lalonde Arena newly anointed AJHL MVP Bobby McMann opened the scoring early in the game with his 35th goal of the season just 1:20 in.
A pre-game ceremony saw AJHL Comissioner Ryan Bartoshyk hand out a steady supply of hardware to the Pontiacs as McMann accepted his MVP trophy, Brinson Pasichnuk won the league’s top defenceman award and Rick Swan was named coach of the year.
Tanner Miller notched his fourth goal of the campaign to tie the game at one apiece midway through the opening period.
Ryan Piche scored a go-ahead goal with just six seconds left in the opening frame to give Bonnyville the lead.
After a Kyler Hehn power-play goal in the second the Oil Barons were down by two at the start of the third. Brett Edwards notched his tenth goal of the season on the power-play directing a Jordan Steenbergen point-shot past Olivier Charest to make it 3-2, but that’s as close as the MOB would come as Derek Brown scored at the eight minute mark and Brinson Pasichnuk notched an empty net goal to seal the victory for Bonnyville.
It was another night where the Oil Barons at times seemed tentative and indecisive.
“We had a stretch there in January where we liked the way that our team was playing and now it’s like we’re almost just waiting for something else to happen,” said Keca. “There are guys that make things happen, there’s guys that sit there and wonder what happened, we need more players stepping up, I don’t know how committed we were to winning races today.”
The Oil Barons were outshot 45-22 with Forbes Ploszaj making 40 saves on 44 shots against, Olivier Charest stopped 20 of 22 shots fired his way.
“We have to be better, if we’re going to go into playoffs no matter who we face we’re going to have to give a lot better effort than what we gave tonight.”
Bonnyville went one for five on the power-play while the MOB scored a goal on four opportunities.
Friday night also saw the return to action of Dylan Rauh who missed last Friday’s game for precautionary reasons, Shane Fraser also drew back into the line-up after suffering an upper-body injury on Feb. 4, in Grande Prairie. Fraser only saw limited action on the fourth line.
With the victory the Pontiacs swept the six-game season series against the Oil Barons.
The Oil Barons will travel to Sherwood Park Saturday night to take on the Crusaders.
“It’s going to be making sure that we protect the net, obviously they’re a team that loves to throw pucks and they’re big bodied and they love to challenge you,” said Keca about the Crusaders. “We have to eliminate any second or third opportunities.”
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. you can listen to the game live on ROCK 97.9 starting with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.