The Fort McMurray Oil Barons look to get back on track as they host the Lloydminster Bobcats for a doubleheader this weekend.
The MOB are coming off a rough road trip that saw them lose three straight but were credited with a win on Saturday because of a roster mistake made by the Drayton Valley Thunder.
Head Coach Tom Keca tells Mix News there was some optimism to be taken out of the bizarre road trip.
“Our best effort was Sunday afternoon. Playing our third game in two and a half days, our guys really bared down. We had great opportunities – fired about 40 shots but unfortunately lost in a shootout.
The Thunder thought they ended a nine-game losing skid in a 4-1 win over the MOB but had to forfeit the win after violating the AJHL rule of how many 20-year-old players are allowed to be on a roster.
As per the Alberta Junior Hockey League rules, teams are only allowed have six 20-year-olds on their roster – which includes affiliates.
With the Bobcats on tap, Keca says he expects to see an opponent hungry for wins.
“They’re going to try and pressure the puck as much as they can. So, for us, it’s about making sure we’re ready to go from the drop of the puck and be able to play the full 60 minutes. When we play within our structure and when we play within our style – we can be effective.”
Heading into a four-game homestand the MOB sit at 6-4-and-2 through 12 games – good for 5th place in the AJHL North Division.
Keca says with the team looking for some breathing room in the North Division – they can’t take Lloydminster for granted.
“The challenge will be making them try and play with us rather than we try and play their game. So, this week’s practice is just about really focusing on our systems, our neutral zone, our forechecks – those types of things.”
Friday’s game takes place at the Casman Centre with puck drop at 7:30 p.m.