The Fort McMurray Oil Barons roared out of the gate Sunday afternoon scoring four goals in the game’s first 12 minutes as they hammered the Sherwood Park Crusaders 8-3 to win their seventh straight game.
The MOB (39-10-3) had goals from seven different players and Will Conley continued to produce, notching his 11th multi-goal game in the win as he scored his 41st and 42nd goals of the season and chipped in three assists for a career best five point game.
“We had a solid team effort from Chris Curr who made some solid stops in the first period which let us get some momentum and I felt we got contributions from everybody,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca whose team scored a season high eight goals in a game for the third time.
Conley would open the scoring 1:31 into the game when he walked off the half wall and beat Brandon Vogel with a low hard shot. The 20 year old has 10 goals and 17 points during his current seven game point streak.
The MOB would take a 2-0 lead at 6:25 when Liam Izyk created a turnover at the Crusaders blueline and sprung Reed Morison in behind the Crusaders defence. Morison beat Vogel upstairs for his 25th goal of the season while Izyk picked up his first point since November 11th before his injury.
Curtis Roach made it 3-0 less than a minute later as the MOB hemmed the Crusaders in their own end and Roach buried a backhand shot from the slot to give the defenceman goals in three straight games.
Another aggressive forecheck led to the MOB’s fourth goal when Jack Hamly forced the Crusaders defenceman to throw the puck up the wall right to Coy Prevost who quickly ripped a shot over the glove of Vogel for his 21st of the year.
Former Oil Baron Ryan Cox got a goal back for the Crusaders (22-28-2) when he rifled a shot past Curr on a late powerplay to give the home side some life late in the period.
“It’s never easy in the North Division to go into someone’s rink and beat them three times so that’s what was sort of on the line for us today and we challenged our players that it was probably going to be the hardest game of the weekend,” said Keca about the MOB winning the season series with the Crusaders winning five of the six meetings and all three on the road. “Full credit, we got out to the good start 4-0, I didn’t like obviously the late goal by them on the five-on-three. Gives them a little bit of life but we re-grouped and re-focused and came out hard in the second period.”
The Oil Barons continued to pour it on in the second period with their top line of Conley, Shane Fraser and Merritt Oszytko all finding the back of the net to open up a 7-1 lead 12:48 into the period.
Fraser would bang home a loose puck in the crease on a Barons powerplay for his 19th goal before Conley and Oszytko would score 13 seconds apart. Conley roofed a shot down the left wing while Oszytko snapped a shot past Vogel in an almost identical spot after the Crusaders defenceman fell and gave him a free lane to the goal.
“It’s that element of a line where each guy brings something different and I think they complement one another really well,” said Keca of the trio who combined for four goals in the win. The goal was Oszytko’s 20th of the year and gives the MOB four 20 goal scorers.
Cox would get another late goal in the period. This one a blistering shot from the point off a face-off win with one second left in the frame. Cox has 32 goals on the season after his two goal game.
In the third period, Morison would return the favour from Izyk, this time setting him up for his 7th goal of the year. Keca has been juggling his lines of late, trying to get all of his healthy bodies in the line-up and trying to find some chemistry between certain players. He re-united the line of Izyk, Morison and Nicholas Leeseberg for Sunday’s game and they came through with two goals.
“We’re just looking for some chemistry and as a coach it’s the fine line to always walk when you put guys together and then that relationship starts to get stale and do you change it up or how long do you wait before you make another change and we’ve still got eight games here to figure out some line combinations,” said Keca.
Erik Miller got a third period goal for the Crusaders to round out the scoring. Curr made 33 saves in goal including stopping a penalty shot in the third period off Ty Readman as he picked up his 15th win of the year.
The MOB return home for their next three games. They will host the Drayton Valley Thunder Wednesday and Thursday before meeting the first place Spruce Grove Saints one last time on Family Day Monday. The Oil Barons sit two points back of the Saints for first place in the North Division.
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show.