The Fort McMurray Oil Barons are rolling to start the AJHL season. After shutting out the Drayton Valley Thunder in back to back games last weekend, the MOB hit the border city Friday and Saturday night and disposed of the Lloydminster Bobcats twice to remain undefeated.
A 3-2 win Friday was followed up by a 5-2 victory Saturday giving MOB Head Coach Gord Thibodeau win number 899 and 900 of his AJHL coaching career.
It has been a historic coaching career for the 57 year old which started back in the 1994-95 season with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders. Now in his 27th season behind the bench, Thibodeau continues to pile up the wins. He passed Don Phelps as the winningest coach in AJHL history on February 3, 2017 when he was coach of the Whitecourt Wolverines when he won his 833rd career game. It was only fitting that that 2-1 overtime win came in Fort McMurray against the Oil Barons, the team which he had spent 11 seasons manning the bench.
Four seasons later and now back with the MOB, he has hit yet another milestone, number 900.
The MOB have played an excellent defensive game to start the year as it took nearly eight and a half periods for them to concede their first goal of the season and they are a perfect 16 for 16 on the penalty kill through four games.
A major reason for their success has been the play of goaltenders Evan Fradette who picked up AJHL Player of the Week honours and is 3-0 to start the year and Josh Nadler who won his first career AJHL start Saturday night making 21 saves.
On Friday, Nick McCarry scored a pair of goals to put the MOB up 2-0 heading into the third period. The Bobcats would tie the game 2-2 with two goals in a 1:53 span from Mack Stewart and Jared Miller.
But the MOB didn’t panic and waited for their chance on a late powerplay and capitalized when Tyler Wallace deflected in a Taige Harding point shot to put them back in front 3-2. The team has bought in to Thibodeau’s system with players right throughout the line-up playing a shutdown style and relentless pressure on the puck. This was evident when leading scorer Hunter Lamb laid down and blocked a shot in the dying seconds to secure the victory.
Saturday, the MOB would once again jump out to a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes with goals from Ty Mosimann and Rider McCallum.
The pesky Bobcats hung around finding the back of the net twice with goals from Orrin Centazzo and Mack Stewart but mixed in was Brendan Wang’s 1st career AJHL goal which kept the MOB out in front 3-2.
Brendan Kuny would bury an Ethan Jamernik feed in the slot to give the Barons some insurance before Mosimann iced the victory with an empty net goal for his second of the night as the MOB skated out with four points on the weekend after the 5-2 win.
Next up; the MOB take their 4-0 record into battle against the 3-1 Spruce Grove Saints at Centerfire Place. Saturday’s game is at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday will be an afternoon contest at 2:00 p.m. You can catch all the action on Country 93.3 and on HockeyTV.