OLDS — Ugly sweater night was fitting for the way the Olds Grizzlys lost at the Olds Sportsplex on Friday night.
Carrying a two-goal lead into the third period, only to have the game tied with 45 seconds left and then get burnt in a shootout to fall 3-2 to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in Alberta Junior Hockey League action.
Jetlan Houcher and Adam Durkee scored in the skills competition for the Oil Barons (22-14-3) to steal the victory from the Grizzlys (17-14-5).
It was a game Olds had well in hand until the final seven minutes.
“A shootout is shootout and the coaches don’t like it but the fans love it,” said Grizzlys head coach Brett Hopfe. “It’s a good thing for the fans, but I thought we deserved a better outcome though.”
Houcher, the Oil Barons captain, also was responsible for sending the game to over time, putting home a loose puck in the final minutes to knot the score at 2-2, while Alyn Nanji started the Fort McMurray rally at 13:20 of the third period. Zach Fortin made 26 stops, plus turned away both shootout attempts, for the win.
Christopher Gerrie and Austin Kernahan scored for the Grizzlys while goalie Jesse Gordichuk stopped 36 shots against his old team in the loss.
It was a particularly tough defeat for Gordichuk who was playing his old team for the first time and stopped the first 25 shots fired his way. He was acquired by Olds on Nov. 7 for forward Kyle Star.
“Obviously its a tough one and he’d like to get that win, unfortunately there were a couple of bounces there at the end — that last one was a bounce off a stick that finds a guy back door for the goal, and even the first one was off a bad bounce,” said Hopfe. “I thought he played extremely well for us, he’s been everything we’ve asked for since we traded for him.”
The game was an improvement for the Grizzlys, who were coming off a 7-3 loss in Calgary to the Canucks (13-20-5) on Wednesday.
“I’ve said all year we’re a process based team, not results based, and I thought our last two games against Camrose and the Canucks were not our best efforts, with us coming out tonight, this was by far a better effort that we showed,” said Hopfe.
The Grizzlys host the Lloydminster Bobcats (23-11-5) tonight at 7 p.m. in their final game before the Christmas break.
NOTES — The Grizzlys were wearing special ugly Christmas sweaters that were auctioned off throughout the game … The Grizzlys were 1-for-4 on the power play while the Oil Barons were 0-for-3 with the man advantage … The announced attendance was 527 for the game.