Halloween may have already been over but a couple of horrific third periods for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons led them to a pair of losses to the Whitecourt Wolverines this weekend at the Casman Centre.
The Wolverines waited until the final 20 minutes in both Friday’s 4-2 win and Saturday’s 8-3 thumping to deliver the final dagger as they outscored the MOB 9-0 in the third period.
“I thought we played pretty well through two periods and I don’t think we ran out of gas but there’s two teams out on the ice and they played exceptionally well in the third period and they were hungry and certainly outplayed us,” said MOB Head Coach Bob Beatty after Saturday’s 8-3 loss.
Heading into the weekend, the Oil Barons (7-12-1) trailed the Wolverines (9-7-2) by just one point in the North Division standings and with four games against each other over the next two weekends, both teams knew the importance of the games and it was the Wolverines who took advantage stealing both games on the road.
“It’s exceptionally frustrating, especially because we talked about the importance of this weekend in the standings and now we need to step back and re-evaluate here,” said Beatty. “I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think we can’t play .500 against this team but they come into our barn and sweep two – it’s gut check time.”
Friday night, with the MOB trailing 1-0 in the second period, the Barons scored two goals in a four minute span to take a 2-1 lead.
Ty Budai finished off a pass out of the corner from Tyler Wallace with some great work from Jonathan Assayag and then while shorthanded, Ryan Conroy wired a shot into the top right corner off the rush after Jesse Burchart spotted his captain coming in late.
But in the third period, a five minute major penalty for high-sticking to Conroy with just under eight minutes remaining was the turning point.
The Wolverines scored two quick goals and then added an empty netter to come back and hand the MOB a 4-2 loss.
Saturday night was a back and forth battle early on as the teams traded four goals in the first period and came out tied 2-2.
After the Wolverines scored 1:01 into the game, Ty Ettinger banged in a power play goal to the tie the game after Konrad Belcourt’s point shot bounced off the end boards right to the defenceman.
The Wolverines again took the lead but for a second straight night, Budai, Wallace and Assayag found the back of the net to tie the game. This time with Assayag jumping all over a rebound after Budai’s initial shot was stopped.
The Barons took the lead late in the second period when Hunter Lamb knocked in a loose puck in the crease to put the MOB up one heading into the third period for a second straight game.
After the Wolverines tied the game 1:20 into the third period, they would score three goals in a 46 second span to open a 6-3 lead as the wheels fell completely off for the MOB.
“We have to grow as a team and hold each other accountable but at the same time, when things go bad, might as well all go bad all at once and get it out of the way,” said Beatty of a disastrous third period. “We can use this as a pretty good example. We just didn’t play real sharp through 60 (minutes), we played a good 40 (minutes) and you only get two things out of that, nothing and sweet nothing.”
A scary scene a few minutes later saw Max Struss throw a thunderous open ice hit on Ethan Leyer after he made a pass out of his own zone. Leyer laid motionless on the ice and was stretchered off. Struss was given a match penalty for a blow to the head.
The Wolverines responded by tacking on another two goals to round out the scoring of a big 8-3 win for the visitor’s.
The two teams are right back at it next weekend in Whitecourt on Saturday and Sunday. Before the MOB head to Whitecourt, they will play the Grande Priairie Storm on Friday to begin the road trip.