The Fort McMurray Oil Barons were off to a rough start as the team split weekend games against the Grande Prairie Storm after a 12-day break.
The teams returned to Centerfire Place and began the first two of four games against each other. The Storm took Friday’s game in overtime, but the Oil Barons hit back on Saturday with a 7-3 victory.
Fort McMurray Oil Barons head coach Gord Thibodeau said the team was rusty on Friday as they returned from the break. The team came off an eight-game cohort against the Spruce Grove Saints, in which the MOB won six games.
“We just didn’t look game-ready, they came in at us pretty hard, I thought we didn’t respond very well,” he said.
Friday’s game started slowly, with the Storm’s Cooper Connell scoring the game’s first goal 15 minutes into the first period.
Oil Barons’ forward Michael Hodge tied the game on a power play in the second period. MOB forward Hassan Akl put Fort McMurray in the lead, only to be tied again by Grande Prairie forward Ethan Strang.
With no third period goals, the game ended in a shootout. A goal from Storm forward Paycen Bjorklund gave Grande Prairie the victory.
The Oil Barons have only lost in overtimes or shootouts this season. Thibodeau said the team has played well, but have “shot ourselves in the foot a couple times in overtime.”
“It’s a different game when you get 3-on-3. You really have to make sure you limit your turn-overs and we’ve turned over the puck a couple times,” he said. “But the more you practice, the more you get an opportunity to be in that situation, hopefully the more you learn for next time.”
On Saturday, Grande Prairie quickly took the lead four minutes into the first period. MOB forward Ryder Matter hit back less than three minutes later with a goal. Another goal from Fort McMurray’s Nickolas de Beurs on the power play gave the Barons the lead heading into the second period.
The MOB dominated most of the second period, scoring three goals in the first seven minutes, and a fourth goal from Oil Barons forward Hunter Lamb later on in the period. Grande Prairie managed to score only one goal in the second period.
The penalty box was also busier in the second period, with 21 minutes served by Grande Prairie players and 15 minutes by Fort McMurray. This included a fight between Fort McMurray’s Ethan Jamernik and Grande Praires’ Dan McIntyre about halfway through the period.
Grande Prairie forward, Lukas Konashuk, scored a goal in the third, but it wasn’t enough to catch up as the MOB took the 7-3 win.
Thibodeau said the team played more aggressively and smarter on Saturday. Overall, he feels it was a successful weekend.
“Anytime you get three out of four points it’s pretty good, he said.
The Oil Barons and Storm are back on the ice in Grande Prairie on Friday.