The Whitecourt Wolverines out hit, out skated and out muscled the Fort McMurray Oil Barons for a second game in a row and it resulted in the MOB’s worst loss of the season, a 7-1 thumping Monday night in Game 3 of the North Final.
The Wolverines now lead the series two games to one and have outscored the Barons 12-4 in the last two games.
When asked where the game went wrong tonight for his side, MOB head coach Tom Keca had just one word, “turnovers.”
The Barons turned over the puck too much and too often and the Wolverines made them pay time and time again throughout the game.
“It’s just a matter of managing the puck in the neutral zone and going into battles with one hand on your stick, we just can’t do that and the sooner we learn that the better off we’ll be,” said Keca.
Eric Krienke would sneak behind the MOB defence for the game’s opening goal just 48 seconds after the drop of the puck. Krienke deked out Eric Szudor before sliding the puck through his legs.
The Barons responded well the rest of the period and would tie the game on a late powerplay when Brandon Ralph walked in from the left circle and snapped a shot past Pierce Diamond for his 4th goal of the playoffs and first of the series.
The late goal gave the MOB some life but that was quickly taken away when Krienke got in behind the MOB defence for a second time, 1:19 into the second period and beat Szudor with a quick move to the blocker side.
Noah Tooke gave the Wolverines a 3-1 lead at 11:35 of the period when the defenceman rushed the puck end to end and flew down the right wing before firing a shot far side to beat Szudor. A MOB turnover at the Wolverine blueline a minute later ended up in the back of their net when Cody Laskosky snapped home a touch pass from Kellan Cornelis off the rush.
Nick Quillan rounded out the scoring in the second when he blasted home his first goal of the series on a powerplay with 55 seconds left in the period to put the Wolverines up 5-1 heading into the intermission.
“Out of the first five goals, four of them were the direct results of turnovers of pucks in the neutral zone,” said Keca. “As a coaching staff we can sit there until we’re blue in the face and tell our players that you have to make sure that you get pucks in deep but until we clue in that that’s important these are the types of results that we’re going to get.”
Josh Williams took over the Barons goal to start the third period after Szudor allowed five goals on 25 shots. Williams would make six saves in the period and allow two powerplay goals. Stevie Bryant banged in a puck that bounced off the back wall and out front while Dawson Bruneski finished off a cross crease pass with 15 seconds left in the game.
The Wolverines went 3-8 on the powerplay while the MOB had just three opportunities and finished the night 1-3.
“We want to get back to the compete level that we had in the previous series. As you progress through the playoffs it’s going to get harder and harder and tougher and tougher and you have to increase your work ethic and we haven’t,” said Keca on the play of his team throughout the series.
“We’re still stuck in the last round thinking that that effort is going to be enough but when you’re playing better teams that’s not going to be the case.”
Game 4 of the series goes Tuesday night from the Scott Safety Centre in Whitecourt. Pre-game show at 7:15 p.m. with Taylor Pope on Country 93.3.