MOB off to strong season start with weekend victories, AJHL Player of the Week

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons celebrate after scoring a goal against the Drayton Valley Thunder at Centerfire Place in Fort McMurray on Saturday, November 14, 2020. Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

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The Fort McMurray Oil Barons are starting the season off on the right skate after defeating the Drayton Valley Thunder and having one of their own named AJHL Player of the Week.

Friday night’s game at the Centerfire Place started off slow, with neither team scoring in the first period and only one penalty awarded, a high-sticking call that was given to Fort McMurray’s Nicholas McCarry.

In the second period, MOB forward Hassan Akl scored the first goal of the game. Two more goals from the Oil Barons in the third period gave them a 3-0 win.

The two teams were back playing each other in Fort McMurray the following day.

This time, it wasn’t until the third period when Oil Barons forward Hunter Lamb scored the first goal in the game. A goal one minute later by Joe Clark quickly gave the MOB a 2-0 lead.

A second goal from Lamb solidified the lead for the Oil Barons, who would finish the game with a 3-0 win.

Oil Barons head coach Gord Thibodeau said the players work ethic was a main reason they saw success over the weekend.

“We did a lot of good things I thought Friday night. Our goaltending and defence were very good, we didn’t give up a lot and we kept their scoring chances to a minimum and the penalty kill was real good,” he said.

“We were a bit sloppier I thought Saturday and we gave up a few more chances, but our goaltender really played well. Overall our penalty kill did a great job on the weekend, our powerplay got us a couple goals and the work ethic was real good.”

On Monday, Oil Barons goaltender Evan Fradette was named AJHL Player of the Week. During the weekend, Fradette stopped 49 shots and shut out the Thunder in the two games.

In the 2019-2020 season, Fradette had three shutouts in 37 games. He finished the season with a save percentage of .903, saving a total of 1067 shots.

Thibodeau said starting off the season with back-to-back wins is great for the team confidence, but said it’s always tough to win on the road.

“I’m not fooling anyone, as a coach I know it’s only one weekend and you’re only as good as your last game in this type of league but it’s great for the kids and their confidence. Especially after a tough season last year for them to get rewarded… with a victory, that’s always a nice thing,” he said. “But we also have to understand that you can’t rest on that and this weekend.”

The next game for the Oil Barons is on Friday against the Lloydminster Bobcats in Lloydminster.

lbeamish@postmedia.com

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