The Fort McMurray Oil Barons were given a late scare from the Bonnyville Pontiacs Sunday night in Game 3 of their North Division quarter-final. With the MOB leading 3-0 in the third period, the Pontiacs scored two goals in 55 seconds in the dying minutes to cut the lead to 3-2 but it wasn’t enough as the MOB hung-on for the 3-2 win and a three game series sweep of their division rival.
“This is a tough building to come into, we knew that this was going to be a tough series,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca. “Bonnyville played extremely hard and we were able to sweep which was important and the message to the team after the game was as good as this feels, the feeling is only going to get magnified as we continue.”
The 7th seeded Pontiacs did indeed give the MOB everything they could handle, a 3-2 win in double overtime in Game 1 before a 7-1 thumping in Game 2 and another 3-2 score in Game 3, the 2nd seeded Oil Barons certainly didn’t run over the Pontiacs.
The MOB controlled the majority of the series but the Pontiacs found ways to keep things close and interesting aside from a Game 2 blowout.
The Barons opened the scoring 3:40 into the game when Reed Morison got in behind the Pontiac defence off an offensive zone face-off. From in tight, Morison beat Justin Travis under the blocker arm for his first goal of the playoffs.
In the second period, a shot off the end boards landed right on the stick of Jarred White would lead to the Barons second goal as White roofed a shot into the top right corner for his second goal of the series to give the MOB a 2-0 lead just prior to the mid-way point of the game.
“I thought we dominated a large part of it. We didn’t give up a lot of scoring chances in the first two periods but yet you’re still only one shot away from it being really interesting and we prepped our players that the first five to ten minutes were going to be crucial and I felt we did a great job,” said Keca as the MOB outshot the Pontiacs 24-11 after two periods.
With their season on the line in the third period, the Pontiacs ramped up the intensity outshooting the MOB 14-11 in the frame but it was a late MOB powerplay goal that seemed to be the final dagger. With 4:05 left in the period Coy Prevost finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play with Curtis Roach and Morison to give the MOB a 3-0 lead.
“They’re veteran guys and they stepped up today and got the ball rolling which was great to see and they played well defensively which was good,” said Keca of the line of Morison, Prevost and Liam Izyk who all scored in the series.
The Pontiacs weren’t going away that easily as their captain Charlie Gawlicki started a final minute comeback scoring twice in the final 1:13 to cut the deficit to one but the MOB survived and are moving on to the second round.
Chris Curr was solid in goal once again for the MOB, making 23 saves in picking up his third win of the series.
The MOB will now face the Whitecourt Wolverines in the North Division semi-final after the Wolverines swept the Lloydminster Bobcats in their series. This will be the third straight year the two teams have met in the playoffs with the Wolverines taking the first two meetings.
“They’re a high octane team, they’re very deep up front, they’ve got a great goaltender so we’re going to have our work cut out for us,” said Keca of facing the Wolverines. “It should be a great series.”
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 Post-Game Show