By Tyler King
The return of one of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons’ former leading scorers was just what the doctor ordered for an offence that had sputtered in a Wednesday night loss to the Spruce Grove Saints.
Buoyed by the return of Luc Lalor, the MOB bounced back from its 2-1 defeat at the hands of the North division’s leaders by downing the third-place Sherwood Park Crusaders by 6-3 and 2-0 margins on the weekend, leapfrogging the Cru into third.
Lalor himself barely took any time to re-establish himself as a top-tier AJHL forward, notching two assists in the first game of the weekend and recording his first goal of the weekend in the second.
“It’s a really good group of guys, and they’ve made me feel really comfortable just stepping into the room,” said Lalor after his first weekend back. “Obviously a lot of new faces, but it’s a really friendly group of guys; a lot of comedians on the team, and it’s a lot of fun so far.”
When he debuted for the Oil Barons in 2012-13, Lalor’s 30 points ranked him first on the team, as he became the first 17-year old to lead the team in scoring since Edmonton Oilers draft pick Matt Glasser did the same. The following year, injuries kept him out of the vast majority of regular season games, but he still averaged more than a point per game in the games he was able to play.
This season, in an attempt to jump to a higher level, Lalor began the season with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League. Despite a lack of playing time, Cornell University continued to recognize Lalor’s immense potential, and quickly snapped up a commitment from him to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Big Red. But the playing time did not increase for #12, and eventually, a return to the Oil Barons became a more logical step.
“Any athlete wants to play at the highest level possible,” Lalor explained. “Obviously, it wasn’t a call that I wanted to get, but at the same time, [head coach] Curtis [Hunt] called me right after it happened, and the deal was done. As I told him, and he told me, Fort McMurray is somewhat of a home to me; I started my career here, I love the fans, and it’s a nice feeling to be back.”
“It feels like home.”
That said, it was a long trek to return to his second home from Wisconsin, where the total travel time exceeded thirty hours.
“A lot of flat land, and luckily no snow storms,” is how Lalor described the trip. “It was a long haul. I think that whole drive across the midwest, there isn’t much to look at.”
But once he hit the familiar sights of Fort McMurray, Lalor admits the memories began to flow back.
“Anytime you walk into this building, or anytime I’m around Fort McMurray, there are emotions just based on the time that I’ve spent here. I have a lot of emotional attachment to this place, and it’s nice to be back.”
Oil Barons fans definitely see it as nice to have that talented a forward back in the MOB’s lineup, too.
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