â??Cats claw back in pair of games

Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com

Players on the Lloydminster Bobcats were talking about coming back from this weekend’s trio of games with a 3-0 record, and while that didn’t happen they have no reason to hang their heads.

After suffering a 4-1 loss to the Canmore Eagles on Friday night, the Bobcats bounced back on Saturday and Sunday with a pair of tight games that had to be decided by a shootout. They rallied against the Okotoks Oilers on Saturday to win 3-2 and lost Sunday afternoon 4-3 against the Calgary Mustangs.

“We brought the work ethic that was required in each game, we’re still looking to put together a more complete game as we always are looking to do,” said Bobcats head coach Ryan Parent. “We had some great efforts in all three games, to bounce back and win the game on Saturday I thought was good, that barn’s a pretty tough place to play.” The Bobcats recovered from two one-goal leads to beat the Oilers on Saturday; both goals came in the final minute of a period. Dustin Lebrun’s first period marker, in fact, was a first period buzzer beater. Matthew Marcinew scored in the second period on a power play, equalling the game at two. Marcinew and Lebrun also scored in the shootout, sealing the victory for the Bobcats, their third of the year and first win on the road.

On Sunday, the ‘Cats clawed back from a 3-1 third period deficit to send the game into the extra frame. Once again Lebrun started the comeback, while defenceman Grant Baker scored with just over a minute left in regulation. “We made some adjustments, our guys responded to those adjustments that we made in the game, and bang bang we got two goals late in both of those games,” said Parent, referring to Saturday and Sunday’s contests. “It kind of shows you the type of character we have on our team.”

After entering the game in relief of Kyle Baumgardner during Friday’s game, Chase Martin stood between the pipes for the remainder of the weekend and played some of his best hockey of the season. “Chase was the way Chase normally plays,” Parent said. “Certainly I think maybe just getting that first win the weekend prior … just kind of built some confidence in Chase, and I think once a guy like him gets confident I think the sky’s the limit.” Martin gave up just six goals on 75 shots for a .920 save percentage. For comparison sake, Martin is 2-4-1 on the season with an .863 save percentage.

The two shootouts were the first that the Bobcats have had to participate in this year. Parent went to players who have been leading the offence so far this year – Marcinew, Lebrun, and recently-acquired forward Braden Crone. “I like to go with the guys that are going to get it done. If I feel that he can score, we’ll put him in the shootout, and if you’re consistently scoring in the shootout, you’re going to get more time in the shootout,” said Parent of his strategy.

Through 14 games the ‘Cats are now 3-9-2, and though they remain in last place in the North Division, there’s reason for optimism: 10 of the team’s 14 games have been decided by two goals or less and they are 3-1-1 in their last five. “We’ve added to our lineup, we’ve changed our lineup. No team really has their complete lineup in every night, but we’re going to continue to build and adjust as we need to, I think we’re getting down to what could be our final roster here in the next week or so,” Parent added.