During a 60 game schedule there will be many ups and downs throughout the year. For the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, the first 17 games have provided more highs than lows, however Thursday night against the reigning AJHL champion Brooks Bandits was most certainly a low point.
The Bandits (9-3-2) took control of the game early and despite escaping the first period 0-0, the Oil Barons (13-4-0) were never truly in the game falling 4-1 at the final buzzer.
“From the outset there was no life, we were late on forecheck, we were just in no man’s land, we didn’t win a lot of races,” said Head Coach Tom Keca on his team’s performance. “You’re going to have games like that in a 60 game schedule, it’s unfortunate that it came here in front of our hometown fans but give the Bandits credit.”
The game was a physical affair with several big hits dished out from either side. When the crashing and banging settled, it was the Bandits who found the lanes to the net and were able to bury their scoring chances.
“They pushed us around tonight. This was your classic case of the bully comes down and kicks sand in your face, steals your lunch money and we don’t do anything about it,” said Keca.
Parker Foo would open the scoring 5:56 into the second period when a bouncing puck fell to him at the side of the goal. Foo flipped the puck over a sprawling Forbes Ploszaj for his third of the year.
The Bandits would double their lead at 12:24 when Nic Hamre broke in alone and beat Ploszaj on the blocker side.
The physical play peaked when Will Conley leveled Tyler Carangelo just inside the Bandits blueline late in the second period. Hamre came racing to the aid of his teammate and squared off with Conley. The former Bandit laid several solid punches and scored the take down as he tried to spark his club.
“Will’s the type of guy who felt the team needed a spark and lays the big hit and isn’t afraid to drop the mitts, you’re hoping the other guys on the bench say ‘holy smokes if one of our so called better players or offensive guys can do that then I can do the same thing’ but it just didn’t happen tonight,” said Keca on Conley’s fight with Hamre.
Unfortunately, it would be the Bandits adding to their lead before the period was out. Off a face-off, Foo came off the half wall, drove the net and slipped the puck through Ploszaj’s legs for his second of the period.
The Bandits would take a commanding 4-0 lead 2:37 into the third when David D’Agostino wired a shot into the bottom right corner from the top of the face-off circle.
The Barons would get on the board mid-way through the frame. Matteo Aiello floated a shot towards the goal and with great stick, Shane Fraser deflected the puck in the slot up into the top corner past Mitchel Benson. The goal was Fraser’s fifth of the year.
The MOB will look to rebound Friday night when they host the Okotoks Oilers at 8:00pm at the Casman Centre. Pre-game show begins at 7:45pm on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope and Bruce Ferguson.
“To a man in room we have to be better if we’re going to compete. We’re still a young team, we’re still trying to figure out where we fit in with everything but we do have a chance to turn things around against a very good Okotoks team (Friday night),” said Keca.
Noah Kallichuk suited up in his first game with the MOB as an affiliate player. Kallichuk is a member of the Sherwood Park Kings Midget AAA team.