By: Adam Kulak

Coming off a 2-1 loss to the Bonnyville Pontiacs on the road, the Saints respond with a big 3-2 win over a divisional opponent in Fort McMurray.  After struggling to break through Fort McMurray’s defense in the first two periods, the Saints came out with a big third period for the comeback win here at Grant Fuhr Arena.
There wasn’t a lot of room to work with in the first period.  Both the Saints and the Oil Barons play with speed and pace, they were aggressive on the puck and forced a lot of turnovers in the neutral zone.  Both teams had a tough time exiting their zone and entering the offensive zone with possession.  Fort McMurray Captain Taner Miller would get the Oil Barons on the board first 2:16 into the period beating Liam McCloskey off the rush.  The Saints would get two powerplays in the first but struggled to capitalize on either opportunity.  The Oil Barons penalty killers were very strong, protecting the house and not letting the Saints get a lot of controlled zone time.  The Saints got chances in the first, outshooting the Barons 12-4 in the opening period but Barons Goaltender Chris Curr made multiple huge saves and came up big when he needed to.  Millers goal would be the only one as the Saints would go into the 1st intermission trailing 1-0.

The shots were much more even in the second with the Saints outshooting the barons 12-11.  Just under 6 minutes in, the Saints would finally get on the board as Dylan Bourlai would beat goaltender Chris Curr on a 2 on 1 to tie the game 1-1.  The tie would only last a couple of minutes as the Saints would turn the puck over in front of their net and Liam Izyk would capitalize putting it just under the bar to give the Oil Barons back the lead.  Fort McMurray didn’t allow the Saints any time and space to make plays, they forecheck hard and always have support with them and it made it tough for the Saints to move the puck cleanly.  Late in the period Seth Fyten would receive two and a game misconduct for a check to the head on Jarred White.  The Oil Barons wouldn’t score before the end of the period and it would stay 2-1 at the intermission, shots were 24-15 after two periods of play.

Trailing by one going into the third period, it was important for the Saints to come out aggressive and they certainly did.  They killed off the remaining seconds of the penalty and held Fort McMurray to just 1 shot the entire first half of the period.  Jack Hamly and Parker Saretsky would both take penalties seconds apart.  While it was 4 on 4 for two minutes the game really started to open up.  Cam Mitchell would walk in 4 on 4 and put it in on the backhand to tie the game up at 2.  A few minutes later, Alex Dalton would rip a shot over the shoulder of Chris Curr to give the Saints the 3-2 lead.  Things got heated a little bit later as Barons player Owen Kelly took a run at Dylan Bourlai and emotions flared afterword.  Tanner hickey would drop the gloves with Brendan Stafford in a spirited tilt that really got the crowd going late.  Fort McMurray pulled their goalie with a minute left to try and tie it but then Liam McCloskey absolutely robbed Ryan Conroy with the glove for the Save of the night to preserve the 3-2 lead.  The Saints would get two in the third and outshoot Fort McMurray 17-6 in the final period to pull out the 3-2 win here at Grant Fuhr Arena.
The Saints had a tough time getting through Fort McMurray’s neutral zone defense in the first two periods.

Every time the Saints moved the puck up they would have two Oil Baron players on top of them.  The Saints managed to break through in the third and really take control of the game.  Both goaltenders played very well tonight.  Liam McCloskey for the Saints and Chris Curr for the Oil Barons both made huge saves in key moments and kept both their teams in the game all night.  The Saints powerplay struggled to generate goals as Fort McMurray’s penalty killers did an excellent job of being aggressive and disrupting the Saints offensive zone time.  With his family coming down from Massachusetts, Alex Dalton might have had his best game of the season tonight and was rewarded with the game winning goal late as the Saints improve to 9-3-0 on the season.
The Saints are back in action this Sunday afternoon as they welcome the Drayton Valley Thunder.