The Fort McMurray Oil Barons knew they needed to score at least one goal to send the teddy bears to ice and it just so happened that one goal was all they needed as they shutout the Lloydminster Bobcats 1-0.
The Casman Centre was filled with stuffed animals as the fans awaited the first goal of the game so that they could hurl the bears over the glass and on to the ice in support of Santas Anonymous.
The Oil Barons (10-18-1) were icing a depleted blueline with four players out due to suspension and Ty Ettinger still on the shelf with an injury. That meant the MOB’s backend would feature three players making their AJHL debuts. Gannon Laroque, Jack Wolder and Fort McMurrayite Jacob Romanchuk were thrust into action and called upon to play big minutes in a tightly checked game.
“Great team effort, I thought our young defence played exceptionally well, they filled in admirably,” said MOB Head Coach Bob Beatty of his young defenders. “We could have scored a few more goals, we had one which was enough for tonight but we hit a few posts and hopefully we’re saving them for later.”
The only goal of the game came late in the first period with the Oil Barons on the power play. Michael Hodge fed Hunter Lamb in the slot who quickly dished to Brendan Stafford at the side on the Bobcats goal. Stafford slipped home his fourth of the year as the arena exploded with holiday joy.
“They made an exceptional executed play on the power play and it was great to get it (the Teddy Toss goal) in the first period,” said Beatty on the trio.
From there, the MOB were able to shut things down defensively as the Bobcats (4-20-3) never really challenged to tie the game. When called upon, Evan Fradette was solid in goal making 28 saves to earn his first career AJHL shutout.
“Freddy’s a pretty clam goaltender and breeds a lot of confidence because he’s not busy and out of position very often. He’s quick and made some good saves, covers a lot of net and he gives everybody a lot of confidence when he’s paying like that,” said Beatty of his goaltender.
The stuffed animals will be put in hampers this holiday season and given to families throughout the Wood Buffalo region through Santas Anonymous.
“It’s a terrific cause and we’re happy to be a part of it every single season and hopefully we got a lot of bears thrown to the ice,” said Beatty.
The MOB and Bobcats will be back at it Saturday night at the Casman Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Breydon Berthold played his first game for the Oil Barons after being acquired this week from the Lloydminster Bobcats. The 19 year old had three goals and seven points through 18 games to start the season.
Kyle Pow is eligible to return to the line-up Saturday after serving his third game of his suspension on Friday night.
Konrad Belcourt has two games remaining in his suspension while Max Struss and Lucas Jones have three remaining.
Ty Ettinger and Chris Curr remain out of the line-up due to injury and are considered day-to-day.