MOB suffer first pre-season loss, 4-1 in Okotoks

OKOTOKS, AB (August 28, 2014) – The Fort McMurray Oil Barons fell in exhibition play for the first time this pre-season, after a 4-1 loss on Thursday night in Okotoks against the Oilers.

The Barons were outshot 48-14 in the game, falling behind 3-0 after the first period.

“We were just close to ruby red rotten in our own zone,” said Oil Barons head coach Curtis Hunt. “My problem with tonight wasn’t so much the lopsided shots, or even the loss; it was our lack of focus and preparation to start that game.”

Overage forward Stefan Burzan opened the scoring just over five minutes into the game, and just under three minutes later, veteran Rhett Gardner tapped one in from close range to double the lead.

A cross-slot pass to Gardner led to a one-time goal for his second of the night with 5:22 left in the opening frame for a commanding 3-0 Oiler lead, and 13-2 shot advantage through 20 minutes.

The Barons sat multiple veterans, including Brett McNeil (Halifax, NS), Mitchell Vanderlaan (Hanwell, NB), and overager Adam Durkee (Nederland, CO), while for several Barons, including newly acquired defenceman Andrew McCann (Calgary, AB) and new forward Aaron Ryback (Winnipeg, MB), it was their first game in a MOB uniform.

“We can talk about having a young lineup; we can talk about having a few new faces,” said Hunt. “The fact of the matter is; we had a couple of veterans – three of them on the back end – and we needed more from them.”

Okotoks added its fourth and final goal 91 seconds into the 2nd period when Gardner fed Troy Degraaf for a one-time goal.

The Barons responded with less than a minute to go in the 3rd when Mark Drohan (Calgary, AB) fired a power play point shot through traffic for the MOB’s only goal.

The MOB’s penalty kill went 4-for-4 in its first set of appearances on the pre-season, while goalie Jesse Gordichuk made 44 saves on the evening.

“The thing for our guys is that they need to learn to play without thinking,” Hunt added. “We’ll approach the game tomorrow the same way. It’s a road game; you’ve got to make the other team come 200 feet; you’ve got to protect the middle of the ice; that’s going to be the message for every single game we play on the road.”

The Barons face off against the Brooks Bandits in their penultimate pre-season game tomorrow afternoon at 1:45. Live scoring updates will be provided on the team’s official Twitter account, @MOBHockey.