The teddy bears were in the house Saturday night as the Fort McMurray Oil Barons took on the Spruce Grove Saints at the Casman Centre for the annual Teddy Toss in support of Santas Anonymous.
The teams were meeting for a third time in just over a week and after splitting last weekend’s contests it was the Oil Barons (14-9-6) who took the mini three game set with a 3-2 victory.
“One of those wins where everybody contributed. I thought (Josh) Dias was outstanding again for us, I thought that our defensive core was better and our forwards did an admirable job,” said MOB Head Coach Tom Keca. “It was our fourth game on this six game homestand, we’re playing against some pretty good teams and I like the direction our team is moving in.”
It looked like it wouldn’t take long to get the bears to the ice as Kole Gable found a wide open Brendan Stafford just over two minutes into the game. Stafford’s shot was robbed by Saints netminder Liam McCloskey as the fans anxiously waited to throw their stuffed animals.
That moment would come with 4:03 remaining in the first period with the MOB on the powerplay. Ryan Conroy’s point shot deflected off Gable who was standing in front of the goal and the bears came raining down.
A fitting goal scorer as Gable a Fort McMurrayite used to attend Father Mercredi High School, the school in which Santas Anonymous has run out of for over 30 years in our community.
The Saints (20-9-1) dominated the first period on the shot clock, outshooting the MOB 17-9 but were unable to beat Josh Dias who was making his sixth straight start with Chris Curr still not 100 per cent.
The Barons doubled up their lead before heading into the break when Nathan Carl tapped in a rebound for his 3rd goal of the year. Taner Miller and Nolen Coventry drew the assists.
“He’s light on his feet, he’s quick, he’s shifty and dynamic offensively and he’s going to grow into that role. Right now were trying to teach him the defensive part of the game – he’s very receptive to any instruction he gets which is great to see because he’s coachable and his role is getting bigger and bigger,” said Keca on Carl.
The Saints cut the lead in half in the second period off a great individual rush from defenceman Tanner Hickey who went end to end before rifling a shot past Dias for his 9th goal of the season.
After allowing 17 shots in the first period, the MOB were able to shut the Saints down defensively, holding them to only 14 the rest of the game.
That defensive play led to the Barons regaining their two goal advantage. Peter Tomaras got the puck to Jarred White whose shot was stopped by McCloskey. The rebound went to Chad MacLean who slid the puck through the crease and out the other side. MacLean rushed around the goal to pick up his own pass and knocked the puck home to make it 3-1 Oil Barons.
The Saints would get a late powerplay goal from Cole Basnett at 15:49 but the MOB dug deep to knock off the Saints and snap their three game winning streak.
The MOB will finish up their six game homestand next weekend when Lloydminster and Bonnyville come to the Casman Centre on Saturday and Sunday.
MOB Head Coach Tom Keca on the Country 93.3 post-game show.