The Fort McMurray Oil Barons fired a season high 63 shots on goal and found the back of the net five times en route to a 5-3 win over the Calgary Mustangs Friday night.
The MOB (24-8-1) begin a three game swing down south before the Christmas break with a first stop in Calgary. The game started rough for the MOB as they found themselves trailing in the opening minute after Brett Edwards took a cross checking penalty 22 seconds in.
The Mustangs (5-27-2) would work the puck to the front of the net where Sine Chadi hammered home the game’s opening goal at the 53 second mark.
A Barons turnover would lead to the Mustangs second goal at 4:40 of the first. JC Thivierge was stripped in his own zone by former MOB player Mackenzie Mindus who walked in and snapped a shot off the goal post and in past Josh Williams to put the Mustangs out in front quickly 2-0.
The Barons found their legs on the next shift as just 14 seconds after the Mindus goal, Will Conley blew past the Mustang defence and threw the puck on goal where Liam Freeborn poked home his first career AJHL goal in his second game.
“It was awesome, he’s an affiliate guy who is pretty much dominating the Midget AAA league this year and it was nice to have a speedy guy on our line that likes to shot the puck and he had his head up and knew where (Jack) Hamly and I were at all times,” said Conley on playing with Freeborn.
The goal seemed to elevate the MOB bench and they continued to poor on the pressure looking for an equalizer. The goal would finally come while shorthanded. On a three on two, Thivierge fired a shot into the glove hand of Bailey Brkin. The goaltender tried to play the puck up ice with three MOB players caught deep but when he dropped the puck, Thivierge lifted his stick and shot the puck into a gapping net to tie the game.
The tie was short lived as the Mustangs would score 48 seconds later on the same powerplay when Nathan Walker’s point shot hit Logan Heimann in front and deflected past Williams.
The Mustangs were able to hold the lead until 15:45 of the second period when Liam Izyk fed Curtis Roach on a cross crease pass and the defenceman roofed a shot past Brkin for his eighth goal of the year to tie the game 3-3. Brkin was nearly unbeatable in the frame, stopping 28 shots in the period as the MOB fired shot after shot until finally breaking through.
“I thought that we came out and saw their place in the standings wasn’t close to ours and think they didn’t deserve a full effort from us and it showed in the first period but after the first period we regrouped and started shooting a lot more and were able to find the back of the net,” said Conley.
An odd man rush to start the third period would lead to the eventual game winner. Matteo Aiello found a trailing Nicholas Nietubyc who was allowed to walk in and slide a shot five hole on Brkin for his first career AJHL goal. The Frisco, Texas native had been waiting a long time for that moment and it was a special one for the entire team with the bench erupting in celebration.
“Honestly I think I had my eyes closed when I shot the puck cause it kind of just went in, I didn’t realize it then I just saw Matteo (Aiello) freaking out,” said Nietubyc on scoring his first career AJHL goal. “It was crazy, I wanted to celebrate but at the same time all I could do was yell because I was so fired up.”
The MOB would get some insurance at 6:17 of the period when Nicholas Leeseberg snapped home his own rebound for his third goal of the year. Final shots in the game were 63-16 in favour of the MOB. Williams picked up his ninth win of the year in his third straight start and remains a perfect 9-0-0 on the season and 17-0-0 in his AJHL career.
Next up for the MOB will be a date with the South Division leading Brooks Bandits on Saturday. Pre-game show starts at 6:45 p.m. on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope.
“Brooks is obviously a team that we can’t take lightly in the first period. We have to get in there and bounce around a lot and put lots of pucks on net and throw lots of body,” said Conley on facing his former team. “The crowd gets really into the games there, they’re pretty intense. They like to chirp and yell and it’s such a loud building and the Bandits have that swagger and you can’t let it get in your head because they’ll punish you if you do.”