The lethal power play of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons continued to produce Friday night as a pair of goals on the man advantage helped knock off the Lloydminster Bobcats in the first of back-to-back contests at the Casman Centre over Thanksgiving weekend.
After Aaron Kellogg scored his first goal as a Bobcat to cut the Fort McMurray lead to 2-1 at the 6:03 mark of the third period, the Oil Barons power play took the ice for the third time of the evening, and struck for the second goal in those three opportunities. The MOB were very efficient this time out, needing just 0:29 to regain a two-goal lead as Jack Hamly took a feed in the high slot from defenceman JC Thivierge, beating Bobcats goaltender Austin McGrath on the low blocker side for his third goal of the campaign that ultimately stood up as the game winner.
The Bobcats certainly didn’t wilt after falling down two goals again, as it took less than a minute for the Cats to answer back. Cory Santoro drove into the offensive zone and fought off a pair of Oil Barons defenders on the way to the net, putting the puck towards goaltender Forbes Ploszaj. The back stopper came up with the first save, but forward Caden Benson found a rebound and put it home for his first goal as a Bobcat in his first appearance with the team.
McGrath would be summoned to the Bobcats bench late in the game to give the Bobcats the extra attacker, but Ploszaj and his teammates were able to keep everything out of the net to hang on for the win.
The shot tally ultimately favoured Fort McMurray 30-20, with Ploszaj extending his record to a perfect 4-0 with an 18 save performance.
Special teams stood as a huge difference tonight, with the Oil Barons converting twice on three power play opportunities, while the Bobcats failed to find the net in their one chance.
Fort McMurray jumped out to a lead in the first on a heads up shot by Brett Edwards, spinning and firing from the top of the circle, beating McGrath over the blocker for his fourth goal of the year. That was the only goal until the final minute of the second, when JC Thivierge kept his productive season going with a power play tally with 0:12 remaining in the period. Thivierge, in his first season in the AJHL, now has five goals and six assists for 11 points in nine games.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night at the Casman Centre at 8:00PM.