It was too little too late for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons Friday night at the Casman Centre as they fell 5-4 to the visiting Drayton Valley Thunder.
The Thunder outplayed the MOB in the first 40 minutes but in the third the MOB were a completely different team and dominated. Hemming the Thunder in their own zone for long stretches at a time. The MOB cut the Thunder’s three goal lead to one but ran out of time at the end of the day.
“We can’t coast through a game for 50 minutes and expect to come out on top,” said MOB Assistant Coach Dave Dupas. “They’re a good team and keep pushing and pushing, they work hard and they were forcing us to work hard and we just didn’t do it until the last ten minutes.”
The Thunder (18-19-5) jumped on the Barons early in the first period getting goals form Kabe Bleay and Tanner Hopps. Bleay struck off the rush 4:54 in before Hopps tucked in a wrap-around at 11:06 of the first period.
The MOB (20-13-7) got some life while in the midst of killing a four minute high-sticking penalty to Ryan Conroy. Goaltender Josh Dias cut off a Thunder dump in and rimmed it up the left side boards to Reed Morison who was in full flight. Morison raced down the wing and wired a shot into the top right corner for his 32nd of the year and third shorthanded goal of the season.
The MOB tied the game three minutes later on a powerplay with some quick puck movement that led to Morison spotting Kole Gable in front. Gable tipped the pass home to give him goals in three straight games and extend his point streak to seven games.
The Thunder took the game over from there scoring three unanswered goals and capitalizing on MOB mistakes in their own zone. Matthew Kinash would bury his own rebound before Hopps popped in his second of the night off another rebound. Bleay opened up a 5-2 lead early in the third period with a point shot that beat a screened Dias.
Trailing by three, the Barons finally woke up and it started with Morison, Gable and Brendan Stafford. Morison found a wide open Stafford in the slot and a quick snap shot beat Luke Lush to get the MOB within two with just over nine minutes remaining. With a three point night, Morison now has 14 points during an eight game point streak and set a new career high with 59 points on the year.
“Those guys came out and they’re scoring goals, they’re killing penalties, they’re helping our team win games and we have to get some secondary scoring and these guys are leading by example and the guys just have to follow them at this point,” said Dupas on Morison and Gable who continue to be the driving force of the MOB’s engine. “We can talk and talk as much as we want to but at the end of the day they (the secondary scorers) just have to go out and perform.”
The Barons kept coming at the Thunder, outshooting them 17-5 in the period and would get another on the board when Jarred White slipped by a check on the boards and rifled a pass to Jaedon Leslie who tipped it past Lush to make it 5-4. White is currently riding a six game assist streak, the longest point streak of his AJHL career.
With the net empty the MOB pressed but could not find the equalizer. They’ll look to rebound Saturday night when they face the Thunder yet again. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Casman Centre.