The Fort McMurray Oil Barons are gearing up for another playoff run but are currently waiting to see who their first round opponent will be.
The MOB finished the year with a 20-34-4 record with 44 points and currently sit in 6th place in the North Division. They are one point ahead of the Grande Prairie Storm who have one game remaining on their schedule which will be Tuesday night against the Whitecourt Wolverines. A Storm win will see the Oil Barons fall to 7th and take on the 2nd seeded Spruce Grove Saints, a Storm loss will have the MOB take on Whitecourt in the AJHL 1st round.
Before the playoffs begin on Sunday, the team held their annual awards banquet Saturday 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.
Michael Hodge who was the driving force of the Oil Barons offense all season was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and received Top Scorer honours. The 19 year old out of Calgary, AB led the team with 30 goals and 57 points and suited up in all 58 games this season. Hodge is in his first season with the Barons after being acquired last off-season from the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The Top Defenceman Award went to team captain Konrad Belcourt. The second year MOB blueliner logged huge minutes all season on the backend and played in every situation. The 19 year old finished the year with 7 goals and 18 points in 51 games.
The Most Defensive Player went to stand out rookie forward Tyler Wallace. The 17 year old saw time at centre and on the wing this season and was consistently a reliable 200 foot player. Wallace chipped in 7 goals and 15 points in 49 games this season and drew rave reviews all season from the coaching staff and figures to be a huge piece moving forward with the MOB.
The team’s Rookie of the Year was defenceman Kabore Dunn who was also named a finalist for the AJHL’s Rookie of the Year. Dunn has received praise all season from scouts and at times has been listed as a player to watch for the upcoming NHL draft. The 18 year old out of Mill Bay, BC finished fourth in team scoring with 10 goals and 30 points in 55 games. Dunn is committed to the University of Maine Black Bears for next season.
Second year Oil Baron Brendan Stafford was named the team’s Unsung Hero. Stafford quickly became a favourite of Head Coach Gord Thibodeau’s when he took over behind the bench in mid-January. Stafford was named an assistant captain and was among the team leaders in hits to end the year. The 19 year old played all 58 games scoring 12 goals and 39 points.
Another player who quickly got in the coaches good books was rookie forward and ball of energy Ethan Jamernik. The 18 year old led the team in hits and brought a tireless work ethic to the club. Jamernik received the Glenn Carriere Heart and Hustle Award. The Calgary, AB native played 40 games chipping in 2 goals and 6 points.
While handing out the awards, Thibodeau mentioned Jamernik’s work ethic as well as another first year Oil Baron in Josh Zinger. Zinger received the Masterton Award as the Most Dedicated Player. Like Jamernik, Zinger brought a physical presence with a tireless work ethic to the MOB this season. The 18 year old was acquired in an early season trade with Salmon Arm and finished the year with 6 goals and 13 points in 33 games.
A great comeback story this year was the return of Luke Harvie and he was awarded the Coaches Award. The third year Oil Baron missed all but nine games last season after needing shoulder surgery. Harvie rehabbed and made the team out of training camp and ended up being an integral part of the club. The 20 year old suited up for all 58 games and was named an assistant captain for his leadership qualities. Harvie filled any role that was asked of him and became a top shutdown forward. He even showed an offensive side to his game at times chipping in a pair of goals and 15 assists for 17 points.
This year’s recipient of the Rody MacNeil Award / Scholarship which includes $1,000 towards their post-secondary education was Max Struss. The defenceman turned forward was another veteran player who played whatever role was asked of him this season. The 19 year old second year Oil Baron was an assistant captain who played 46 games scoring 3 goals and 6 points while racking up 148 penalty minutes. Struss routinely stood up for his teammates and was a thorn in his opponent’s side every night.
Lastly, first year blueliners Taige Harding and Lucas Jones shared the Terry Conroy Award for community involvement and school studies. Both players attend Father Mercredi High School and have been exemplary in representing the Oil Barons in the community.