The Fort McMurray Oil Barons wrapped up the AJHL regular season this past weekend and finished the campaign as one of the hottest teams heading into the post-season.
After an up and down first half to the season where the club battled with consistency, they have hit their stride at the right time as the club enter’s the playoffs with a 10-2-1 record over their final 13 games.
The Oil Barons finished in fourth place in the North Division with a 32-19-9 record with 73 points, nine points clear of their first round opponent the Grande Prairie Storm.
Before the playoffs begin on Thursday, the team held their annual awards banquet Monday night to honour those who had exceptional season’s on the ice as well as those who have done so much for the community and their teammates off the ice.
Reed Morison took home three awards after leading the charge the entire season for the MOB. The second year Oil Baron led the Alberta Junior Hockey League in goals with 41 and finished third in scoring with 79 points. Morison was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and received Top Scorer honours. The 20 year old out of Calgary was a model of consistency all season as he registered a point in 49 of 59 games played this season and was named a league finalist for the Most Valuable Player Award.
Morison also shared the Rody MacNeil Award / Scholarship which includes $1,000 towards his post-secondary education with his line mate Kole Gable. Gable a local Fort McMurray product returned home to play his final junior season in his hometown after spending three years in the Western Hockey League. The 20 year old received the Unsung Hero Award after finishing second on the team in scoring with 24 goals and 65 points. Gable brought a veteran presence to the team and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. He played a huge role in the Oil Barons second ranked penalty kill and was among the team leaders in blocked shots.
Another player who played a vital role in the Oil Barons strong penalty kill was defensive defenceman Gunner Kinniburgh who was named the team’s Most Defensive Player. The 18 year old was consistently matched up against the opposition’s top players in his second season with the club and excelled in his role and even chipped in with his first goal in two seasons to end the year.
For a fourth straight year, Lethbridge native Taner Miller took home an award. Named captain in his final season, Miller was named the team’s Best Defenceman and also received the Masterton Award as the Most Dedicated Player. Miller set a career high this season with 11 goals and 46 points and for a third straight year played in 59 games. During his four years with the Oil Barons, Miller played an impressive 234 games, only missing six regular season games. The 20 year old was named a league finalist for the AJHL’s Most Dedicated Player.
Third year Oil Baron Jarred White was named the winner of the Glenn Carriere Heart and Hustle Award. The fan favourite has become known around the league for his tireless work ethic and his willingness to sacrifice his body for the good of the team. White set career highs in games (57), goals (12), assists (23) and points (35) this season. White’s production skyrocketed after the Christmas break when he was put into a more offensive role. The 19 year old Edmonton native finished the year with 24 points in his final 25 games.
Rookie of the Year went to 17 year old Chad MacLean who saw his role with the team steadily rise throughout the season. MacLean centered the team’s third line and finished the year with 6 goals and 16 points and was third on the team with 130 penalty minutes.
This year’s Coaches Award went to goaltender Chris Curr. The second year Baron followed up his tremendous rookie season with a 23-12-6 record. He finished in the top 10 in both goals against average (2.61) and save percentage (0.913) and played the fifth most minutes out of any goalie in the league with 2479.
Fort McMurrayite Jesse Burchart picked up the Terry Conroy Award for community involvement. The 17 year old was actively involved in various on ice sessions with minor hockey players and was never shy to volunteer his time in his hometown all while being a full-time student at Father Mercredi High School.
The Oil Barons begin their first round playoff match up against the Grande Prairie Storm Thursday and Friday at the Casman Centre for Games 1 and 2. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at the Casman Centre box office or online.