The Fort McMurray Oil Barons made their first trip through the South Division over the weekend and ran into three very good teams who gave them everything they had.
The MOB (15-27-2) lost all three games but the effort level was certainly there throughout the weekend as the club played some of their most physical hockey of the season.
On Friday the Canmore Eagles doubled up the MOB 6-3, Saturday the Barons fell 2-1 in Okotoks and Sunday they were dumped 6-1 by the Dragons in Drumheller.
The MOB started well in Canmore, scoring the first goal of the game from Michael Hodge and adding another from Kabore Dunn as the two teams ended the first period tied 2-2. The second period saw the Eagles (16-23-4) jump on the Oil Barons mistakes and capitalize on their chances as they opened up a 5-3 lead.
Brendan Stafford had the Oil Barons third goal but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles were carried by Alex Young who netted a hat-trick past Evan Fradette to give Canmore their second win against the MOB in a week.
Saturday in Okotoks may have been one of the Oil Barons best efforts of the season. Despite sitting over 30 points behind the Oilers (32-6-3) in the standings, the MOB went toe-to-toe with one of the top teams in the country every single shift.
The Oilers struck first on a laser from Louis Jamernik but Dunn tied the game just over two minutes later with his 8th of the year.
In the second period, Liam Freeborn put the Oilers up 2-1 early in the frame and from that point on it was the goalies who stole the show.
Parker Sawka, making his first start of the season for the Oilers robbed Hodge on a 5-on-3 powerplay with a sprawling glove save which would’ve tied the game.
“Overall I thought we were solid. We had some good opportunities but just couldn’t bury especially on that 5-on-3 which would’ve been a turning point,” said MOB Head Coach Bob Beatty. “We were finishing checks, our structure was better, we blocked a lot of shots and did the little things but we played a really good hockey team and ultimately came up second but I’m happy with the effort.”
Cameron Beson got the start for the MOB and kicked out 34 saves as the young 17 year old gave the club another strong performance.
“When he filled in before he proved himself and proved that he belonged and it was a no brainer when we traded Chris Curr to Drumheller on who was going to fill in the rest of the season and now here he is taking advantage of his opportunities, a 17 year old and full time player and he has a great future,” said Beatty on Beson who was signed by the team to finish out the year in Fort McMurray.
The MOB finished up the trip in Drumheller and allowed an early goal from Myles Hilman but seemed to settle down from there with the first period ending 1-0. Fradette made a highlight reel save to end the period on a two-on-one rush as he did the splits to stone Brady Risk.
Risk would get the better of Fradette however in the final two periods as he notched a hat-trick with a powerplay goal in the third period. Hilman added a second and Scout Truman got the other Dragon goal.
The Dragons scored three goals in a three minute span in the second period which put the game out of reach for the MOB.
The Lone bright spot on the day was a breakaway from Ethan Jamernik that was stopped but he stuck with the play and fed Luke Harvie in front of the Dragons goal.
Harvie snapped a shot past Ryley Osland for his first goal in 100 games and first since September 16th, 2017, his first career AJHL game.
“It was awesome to see, everyone was pulling for him and everybody was pretty excited. You don’t see that kind of emotion very often when you score to make it 4-1,” said Beatty with a smile. “We love his effort, he’s a tremendous person and he’s had some hard luck around the net as everyone knows and it’s great to see him get one.”
The 19 year old wears his heart on his sleeve and has been a tireless worker this season. Harvie was named an Assistant Captain a couple weeks ago and is one of just four Oil Barons to appear in all 44 games this season.
The MOB will look to snap their four game slide Friday night when they welcome the Okotoks Oilers to the Casman Centre. They’ll finish off the weekend with a date against former captain Ryan Conroy and the Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday as Conroy makes his return to Fort McMurray.
Kabore Dunn committed to the University of Maine for the 2020-2021 season. Dunn missed Sunday’s game as he makes his way to Hamilton, ON for Tuesday’s CJHL Top Prospects game. The 18 year old will play on Team West.
The CJHL Trade Deadline was on Friday and the Oil Barons made a couple of roster moves. The team traded 20 year old Ty Budai to La Ronge of the SJHL in exchange for future considerations. Budai had 7 goals and 17 points in 38 games for the MOB.
The MOB signed goaltender Cameron Beson who had been an affiliate with the club. Beson had been playing in the NWJHL with the County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings. The team also signed forward Kyle Brown from the Saanich Braves of the VIJHL. The 18 year old had 15 points in 20 games this season.
The team traded the CJHL playing rights of goalie Reece Klassen to Surrey of the BCHL for future considerations. Klassen’s rights were acquired at the start of the season in a trade with Lloydminster and he has been playing in the WHL with Swift Current.