The Casman Centre was rocking Friday night for Game 2 of the North Division quarter-final between the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
This was certainly a battle of two rivals with thunderous body checks and a near line brawl to end the game.
The MOB scored early and often as they thumped the Pontiacs 7-1 to take a 2-0 series lead heading to Bonnyville for a chance of a series sweep on Sunday.
One of the Barons biggest strengths so far in the post season has been their scoring depth with each line contributing offensively.
Peter Tomaras would open the scoring 7:08 into the first period with a shot that beat Justin Travis on the short side on a partial two-on-one with Domenico Argento.
The Barons would double up their lead at 12:49 on a powerplay. Scoring seven seconds into the man advantage when Shane Fraser deflected a Taner Miller shot off a Pontiac defenceman and into the net to make it 2-0 after the first period.
The Barons checking line of Tomaras, Jarred White and Jackson Verstraete went to work again early in the second period. White’s shot was stopped by Travis and Verstraete picked up the rebound and wrapped around the goal and tucked it in to make it 3-0. The MOB added to their lead less than a minute later when Fraser spotted Will Conley trailing the play. Conley walked in and ripped his first goal of the playoffs into the top right corner. The goal would chase Travis after he allowed four goals on 19 shots, a night after making 46 saves in a double overtime loss in Game 1.
The Pontiacs scored early in the third period on a goal from Kash Rasmussen but the MOB added three of their own beginning with Jarred White snapping a shot past Dario Latessa.
“It’s great when you can get wins when your best players aren’t always your best players and now we always say in playoffs there’s always some kind of hero in that room that’s going to manifest itself from nowhere and I thought that that line was really good,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca of Tomaras, Verstraete and White who all found the back of the net.
Conley added his second of the night flying down the right wing when Merritt Oszytko hit him with a perfect cross ice pass past two Pontiac defenders.
“He’s a fun player to watch because even sometimes when it doesn’t work you can see what he’s trying to do and you appreciate that as a coach, you can’t teach offensive creativity,” said Keca on the vision of Oszytko. “We can teach D-zone and how to defend but whether a player has offense that’s up to him and that’s not too much what coaching can do.”
With 5:25 left in the third period, Ryan Conroy drove the puck to the front of the Pontiacs goal and stuffed home his first career junior goal. Conroy went 52 games (season & playoffs) before scoring his first goal and the Oil Barons bench was all smiles for the young 17 year old as he celebrated with his teammates.
Conroy would then have the Casman Centre on their feet two minutes later when a scrum ensued and he got tangled up with Zach Aston. Conroy connected with a right hook and knocked Aston to the ground and continued to throw punches. Conroy’s actions resulted in a match penalty and game misconduct as he skated off to a roar of cheers from the crowd. The match penalty will carry a suspension for the blueliner.
“He’s a first class kid, he works extremely hard, he’s a great teammate and his maturity this year has been fun to watch. He’s going to be an electric player and not only because he can skate well and he handles the puck but he’s tough as nails as he demonstrated that today,” said Keca of Conroy who had 15 assists this season. “We’re very glad that he’s apart of our organization and he’s definitely got a very bright future.”
The MOB will go for the series sweep Sunday night in Game 3 at the RJ Lalonde Arena in Bonnyville. You can catch the game starting at 7:15 p.m. with the pre-game show on Country 93.3 with Taylor Pope.
“We’re prepping for a five game series so if we can finish it earlier that’s great for us but really sometimes the most dangerous animal is one that’s backed into a corner because you know it’s going to come out swinging. I think that the first five or six minutes of Sunday’s game are going to be crucial,” said Keca.
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show.