Sporting commemorative Remembrance Day jerseys Friday night at the Casman Centre, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons not only looked sharp but were also able to battle themselves to a 3-1 win over the visiting Calgary Canucks.
Eric Szudor led the way making 40 saves as for the second time this season, the MOB were heavily outshot by the Canucks with the final total at 41-26. In two games against the Canucks this season, Szudor has stopped 87 of 91 shots.
“We played a bit of a sloppy game I thought.,” said MOB Assistant Coach Dave Dupas after the game. “Without Eric (Szudor) tonight I think it’s a different story. We have to be more consistent with the way we get pucks in deep, the way we don’t turn pucks over at the bluelines and we have to get better at that or else one of these days our goalies aren’t going to save us every night.”
The Oil Barons (17-3-1) jumped on the Canucks (10-11-1) early, catching the defence sleeping when Reed Morison snuck in behind the defence and JC Thivierge hit him with a stretch pass up the middle of the ice. Morison went in on Erik Gordon and beat him up high on the blocker side for his 10th goal of the year.
The Barons would double their lead 6:50 into the second period when this time it was Morison making the pass. From below the goal line, Morison fed Jack Hamly in front of the Canucks goal and Hamly beat Gordon on the far side to make it 2-0 Oil Barons. The goal came on the powerplay and was the first home powerplay goal of the season for the Barons snapping an 0-30 streak.
Hamly has had the hot hand for the MOB, scoring in six of his last nine games and he would continue to find the back of the net in the third period. Taner Miller banked the puck off the glass and Hamly used good speed to hunt down the puck as he flew down the left wing and snapped a shot past Gordon. The goal was Hamly’s 9th of the season and set a new career high in goals for the third year forward.
“He has good hands, he has good speed and when he can use his physicality and win some battles and create some chances for himself, he’s just going to be that much better so that’s the way he’s been playing all year and he’s being rewarded now as some of the pucks are going in for him,” said Dupas on the play of Hamly of late.
Down 3-0, the Canucks gave themselves a chance when Blake Stevenson buried his own rebound 47 seconds after the Hamly goal. A late flurry of shots however were turned aside by Szudor as that was as close as the Canucks would get.
“He gives the team a lot of confidence and we need him at times when we sit back and we wait and we get back on our heels and he’s always there to bail us out,” said Dupas on the play of Szudor. “Our real strength right now is our goaltending and down the stretch here if we can clean things up a little bit and we have that kind of goaltending we might be a tough out.”
The Barons had a pair of players making their season debuts in the game. Newly acquired defenceman Domenico Argento had a solid game on the blueline. Argento came over in a trade from the OCN Blizzard (MJHL) earlier this week.
“Defensively he was fine, he’s a big body and he’s pinning guys in the corner, he skates pretty well so he’s going to be alright for us,” said Dupas on Argento’s first game.
Also making his season debut was forward Tyler Alger who had been injured since training camp. The rookie skated on a line with Jackson Verstraete and Connor Lyons.
The Oil Barons will wear their poppy themed jerseys once again Saturday as they host the Canmore Eagles. The jerseys are up for auction with proceeds going to the Royal Canadian Legion. Bids can be placed on the jerseys until the second intermission of Saturday’s game.
Assistant Coach Dave Dupas on the Country 93.3 Post Game Show.