The Fort McMurray Oil Barons improved to 12-0-2 in their last 14 games and sit tied for first place in the North Division after a 5-0 drubbing of the Grande Prairie Storm Friday night.
The MOB (36-10-3) scored three times in the third period and were backed by a 20 save shutout from their goaltender Eric Szudor who picked up his league leading fifth shutout of the year.
For the sixth straight game the Oil Barons opened the scoring. Brett Edwards skated down the left wing and wired a shot past Arik Weersink at the 11:23 mark of the first period. The goal was the Grande Prairie native’s 10th of the year and third against the Storm (12-34-6) this season.
The MOB would double their lead 3:06 into the second period when Ryan Cox dropped a pass to Nicholas Leeseberg just inside the Storm blueline. Leeseberg walked in and ripped a shot past the blocker arm of Weersink for his third goal in five games.
“One of the biggest things is just having confidence and when you’ve got confidence, you skate a little quicker, you hit a little bit harder and you contribute a bit more positively,” said MOB head coach Tom Keca of the play of his rookie line of Leeseberg, Liam Izyk and Jarred White.
The MOB would make it 3-0 off a rush when Jackson McKinstry’s pass hit a body and ended up right back on his stick. The 20 year old danced around Weersink and slid home his 7th goal of the campaign. Stefan Wood picked up his second assist of the game on the goal and now has five assists in five games for the MOB.
“Maybe we’re just scratching the surface of what he can be as a player,” said Keca when asked about Wood’s point production. Wood had five points in 13 games with Drumheller this season. “He’s a guy that when I look at the end of the year, it’s going to be a guy that we sit there and go shucks I wish I would’ve had that kid for another couple years cause he’s definitely part of the culture we’re trying to build here and he’s a great ambassador for our program.”
The Barons would take advantage of some sloppy play from the Storm mid-way through the third period when Cox fired a shot from the right point that deflected off a Storm player and into the top left corner. Cox has scored in four straight games since returning from a four game suspension.
The lead would be extended to five at 17:11 when Hayden Ursulak jumped all over a loose puck in front of the Storm goal and roofed a shot off the cross bar and in. McKinstry picked up his third point of the night with an assist while Edwards provided the second helper.
“Without a doubt they were our best line,” said Keca of McKinstry, Ursulak and Edwards who all scored in the win. “They cycled the puck, they moved their feet and then they got rewarded which was good to see.”
Making his ninth straight start, Szudor wasn’t overly busy but made several big saves in the second period to preserve the lead for the MOB and pick up his 21st win.
“I think more importantly tonight for Szudor tonight was the fact that he might not have had a ton of work but I felt the timing was crucial. It was a 2-0 game in the second period and they were coming on and he stops a breakaway and changes the tide of the game,” said Keca on his goaltender who has attracted interest from several NCAA schools with his strong play this season.
With the win, the MOB are 5-0 against the Storm this season and have outscored them 30-3 in the process. The two teams will meet one final time Saturday at Revolution Place. Pre-game show at 7:15p.m. with Taylor Pope.
Tom Keca post-game show.