Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com
Donning their orange and white third jerseys, the Lloydminster Bobcats not only looked different this weekend, they played different. With a couple of new faces in the lineup, the Bobcats offence looked more comfortable than they had all year, and their defence and goaltending was solid when they had to be.
After picking up their first win of the season on Friday night, beating the Fort McMurray Oil Barons 4-3, the ‘Cats took Saturday night’s game by the same score, in a come-from-behind thriller. “We’re ecstatic, what a way to go into our Thanksgiving weekend,” said the team’s head coach Ryan Parent, who looked as though the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders.
Dustin LeBrun scored his second in as many nights to give the Bobcats a first-period lead on Saturday, but the Oil Barons, looking to avoid the two-game sweep, came out with intensity to start the second period. With three goals in just under 10 minutes, the Oil Barons took a two goal lead before newly-acquired Braden Crone snuck the puck short side past the Oil Barons goaltender at the tail end of a two-man advantage, bringing the Bobcats to within one heading into the third period.
Crone would score his second of the game with just under seven minutes to play in the third period, knotting the game at three. With Crone playing alongside the team’s top two offensive threats, Austin McDonald and Matthew Marcinew, for the second half of the game, it appears the ‘Cats have quite a formidable top line. “I’ve never played with either of them before, and I mean, we put a puck in the net there and had a few chances,” said Crone. “Hopefully (head coach Parent) keeps us together and if not I’m sure we’ll keep burying.”
Marcinew, who is now just one of two forwards on the current roster who played on last year’s team, said the three players have had instant chemistry. “We’re all skilled guys, and I think if we practise more we can get more chemistry… And you throw in a guy like (Crone) who can score goals, he’s a sniper, and he also reads the play well, so I think that would be a good line in the future,” said the team’s leading scorer.
With momentum on the Bobcats side, it had appeared that Crone had completed the hat trick, batting the puck in out of mid air with just under five minutes left in the game. The goal was called back on a questionable high-stick call. “That’s life, you’re not going to get all those calls,” said Parent. Though he may have been a little more enraged if it had not have been for the team’s new-found resilience, which came through in overtime.
After losing a pair of 4-3 decisions in their last two home games, the ‘Cats were able to come out on the winning side of a 4-3 decision thanks to Jason Wark. During three on three play Wark had an abundance of chances, getting stopped in close twice prior to netting the winner, including once on a partial breakaway. The crowd, who had little to cheer about earlier this season, awoke with Friday night’s win and carried that enthusiasm into Saturday’s game. “You don’t really pay much attention to the crowd but you could certainly hear our crowd erupt today,” said Parent. “Great team effort, we played as a team and that’s the reward.”
The Bobcats will play four games on the road before returning to the Civic Centre on Oct. 20 for a home game against the Canmore Eagles. They’ll take their new-found confidence on the road with them. “I think we’re going up from here, I mean we had a rough start but I think we’ve figured it all out, and yeah, we’re on our way up,” Marcinew ensured.