The Fort McMurray Oil Barons are finding themselves in unfamiliar territory from a season ago. Through the first ten games of the AJHL season, the MOB sit in second place in the North Division with an 8-2-0 record and are currently riding a four game winning streak.
The Barons blanked the Lloydminster Bobcats for the second time this season with a convincing 5-0 win Saturday night at the Casman Centre.
After a rather disappointing effort Friday night in a 3-2 win over the lowly Bobcats (0-9-0) in which Head Coach Tom Keca said his team played like garbage and were lucky to win. The team came out flying in the first period and never slowed down as five different players found the back of the net and the MOB peppered Bobcats goaltender Austin McGrath with 48 shots.
“Night and day,” said Head Coach Tom Keca when comparing Friday night’s effort to Saturday. “All in all it was a more complete and better effort from the first guy to the last guy.”
JC Thivierge opened the scoring at the 17:32 mark of the first period when he wired a shot into the top corner from the right point. The goal extended the defenceman’s goal streak to four games and was his team leading sixth of the campaign.
Early in the second period, Damon Porter found a wide open Mason Martin back door and the Texas native hammered in his second goal in just his third game of the year.
“I’m going to be dating myself but it almost looked like he did the (Mike) Folingo jump there when he scored,” said Keca with a laugh. “He did a bobblehead when he scored in Showcase last weekend and now we have the Folingo jump so it’s good to see a kid like that contribute.”
Despite being outshot 34-10 through two periods, the Bobcats were still very much in the game due in large part to the play of their goalie Austin McGrath.
But in the third, the Barons were able to finally break through, scoring three goals in the first 6:28 of the period.
Brandon Ralph popped home his second goal of the year 26 seconds into the period. His goal was followed up by a powerplay marker from Kyler Newman, his first career AJHL goal. The hulking defenceman found himself in the blue paint and tapped home a Matteo Aiello rebound.
The final goal came off a great feed from rookie Jarred White. From the half wall, White fed Will Conley at the top of the circle who one timed a shot low glove side on McGrath for his third of the season.
Eric Szudor shut the door the rest of the way, stopping all 22 shots he faced and picked up his third shutout of the season.
“I thought especially in the second period there he did a good job and then in the third they had one last big push and we got a little sloppy in our own zone but Eric (Szudor) has been outstanding for us this year,” said Keca of his goaltender. “He was able to stop them all and there’s that pride on the bench as our players know that we need to battle for Szuds and keep that goose egg on the scoreboard.”
The Barons will head out on their first three game road trip next weekend beginning Friday night in Camrose. The MOB will then head to Drumheller Saturday and wrap up the weekend in Sherwood Park on Sunday.
“When you look at the schedule, the next three weekends are huge for us,” said Keca. “The next nine games are really going to tell us where we fit in.”
JC Thivierge leads all AJHL defencemen in scoring with 12 points in 10 games this season. He is currently riding a four game point streak with four goals and seven points during that stretch.
Jack Hamly also extended his point streak to four games with a pair of assists. The former Spruce Grove Saint has quietly put up ten points this season and has a goal and six points during his point streak.
“Positionally he’s very sound, he’s intelligent and for him to get points quietly as many as he’s had is a feather in his cap and it’s one of the reasons why we brought him here,” said Keca on the play of Hamly.
Trying to send a message to his team that poor effort will not be tolerated. Keca scratched second year players Taner Miller and Brett Edwards for the first time this season Saturday night.
Country 93.3 Post Game Show with Tom Keca
Tom Keca Post Game Oct 8