The Fort McMurray Oil Barons finished their eight-game series against the Spruce Grove Saints this weekend with a win and an overtime loss, but remain at the top of the AJHL’s standings.
In Spruce Grove, the Friday game started slowly until Fort McMurray forward Clarke Huxley scored almost 14 minutes into the first period. Less than two minutes later, the Oil Barons continued leading with a goal from forward Tristan Kimmen. Fort McMurray forward Jesse Burchart scored the game’s third goal in the second period.
Despite having no penalties in the first period and only one penalty in the second period, 10 penalties were tallied between both teams in the third period. With calls like roughing, cross-checking, charging, interference and high-sticking, the MOB saw 31 penalty minutes, while the Saints saw 16 penalty minutes.
The Spruce Grove Saints scored their first goal of the game with four seconds left in the third period, giving the MOB a 3-1 victory.
On Sunday, the MOB was back at Centerfire Place for their final game against Spruce Grove.
The Oil Barons dominated the first period, scoring three goals within 90 seconds. That momentum switched in the second period as the Saints fought back with three goals of their own.
In the third period, a goal from defenseman Rider McCallum gave Fort McMurray the lead, but the Saints forced overtime with a fourth goal. Less than one minute into overtime, Saints forward Graham Gamache scored and gave Spruce Grove a 5-4 win.
Fort McMurray Oil Barons coach Gord Thibodeau said the team wasn’t playing as well as they have been in prior games, but said this slowdown was expected during a season with many delays.
“I don’t think we were very physical the last two games,” he said. “We had success earlier in the series making sure that the forecheck was strong and that we’re physical on their defense, going to the net hard. I didn’t think we did that the last few games.”
The Oil Barons began a two-week break after the weekend while the AJHL decided the next cohort groupings. Thibodeau called the past season a “roller-coaster year” for players and planned to give them a few days off before practices resumed.