Oil Barons lose both games in Grande Prairie, return home for final exhibition game

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons face off against the Grande Prairie Storm in the first round of the playoffs on Thursday, March 7, 2019. Laura Beamish/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network

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The Fort McMurray Oil Barons were unable to win either game this past weekend in Grande Prairie against the Storm as the team gets closer to the end of the AJHL’s exhibition games.

Friday night’s game had Grande Prairie score first with a goal from forward Brett Meerman nine minutes into the first period. The Storm’s lead did not last long as Fort McMurray forward Hunter Lamb scored three minutes later.

The game remained tied for most of the second period, with Grande Prairie forward Ethan Strang scoring with 12 seconds before the second intermission.

The MOB came out strong in the second period, tying the game for the second time less than two minutes into the period. Two more consecutive goals for Fort McMurray put them ahead 4-2 with less than six minutes left in the game.

With two quick goals from Grande Prairie, the game headed to overtime where the Storm’s Edge Lambert scored to end the game with a 5-4 loss for the Oil Barons.

The two teams returned to the Revolution Arena Saturday afternoon where the game was off to a slower start. There were no goals or penalties in the first period.

The second period put Grande Prairie up 2-0 before Oil Barons forward Michael Hodge scored for the team. A goal from forward Grande Prairie’s Paycen Bjorklund gave the Storm a two-goal lead. A lone goal in the third period by Oil Barons defenseman Taige Harding narrowed the gap, but it wasn’t enough and the MOB lost 3-2.

Fort McMurray Oil Barons head coach Gord Thibodeau felt the team played well the first game but struggled Saturday.

“It’s part of the evaluation process. I’m glad we get a chance to go out there and see that type of team and now we know what we need to work on,” he said.

With only two games left in exhibition play, Thibodeau said their evaluation of the team is “ever-changing.” Some players are coming back from the Western league and the Oil Barons still have four injured players.

“Every day it seems you’re subtracting pieces. Unfortunately with the COVID it’s tough to get ahead about where you’re going to be in the next week or planning too far in advance,” he said. “We’ll make some moves this week and hopefully that will set us up well for the start of the season in two weeks.”

The Oil Barons are back on home ice on Saturday, where they will play the Spruce Grove Saints before heading to Spruce Grove on Sunday for the last game of exhibition. The AJHL’s regular season begins Nov. 13.

lbeamish@postmedia.com

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