Bobcats at the mid season mark

Photo and story appear Courtesy of Gordon Anderson/
For head coach Ryan Parent and the Lloydminster Bobcats it’s all about the process.
“The process” isn’t some magical definition or concept, it’s sticking to the hockey systems put in place by the coaching staff and believing in them no matter how positive or negative the result may be.
That couldn’t have been easy for the players early on, when losing was commonplace. But the message seems to be working as the ‘Cats have come through a couple of tough months to start the year to where they’re a team no longer considered an easy mark by their opponents.
In the first 19 games of the year the biggest issue they had was keeping the puck out of their own net. They surrendered 89 goals (43 in September and 46 in October) but this month that has significantly dropped to 24 through 11 games.
Looking at their goals-against alone is enough to give credence to sticking with the process.
“I think we’ve seen some progression in level of play and quality of play,” Parent said. “We’re making steps on the ice as far as what works for our team and how we need to play in order to be successful.”
Assistant coach Kyle Tapp said the first half of the year was about learning how to handle the difficulties that come along because very rarely do things ever go smoothly or according to plan.
“(In the) first half of the year there were some growing pains (and) learning how to win,” Tapp said. “No question it’s been tough but anytime you handle adversity and deal with it properly you are stronger for it coming out the other end. Hopefully, we can take that mindset and use it as a positive thing going forward.”
Five of the teams’ eight wins have come in November. Tapp said the guys are finally starting to piece together the clues as to what it takes to be a successful hockey club.
“On the ice we are starting to trust each other and communicate with each other and you could see that last weekend (against Grand Prairie),” Tapp said. “They were more cohesive, (working) more as a unit instead of a bunch of guys (working off) their own page. That’s how you have to play to win hockey games.”
A lot of that success can be attributed to what’s going on in the heads of the players as a game goes along.
Parent said the Bobcats know unfortunate bounces and bad breaks happen, but they don’t define a game. It’s more of the reaction towards negativity that makes or breaks a result and that comes over time.
“Guys are reacting in a more positive light (to adversity),” Parent said  “They understand what the expectations are and they understand what affects their team positively. That’s something you grow through leadership and it’s something you grow on a day-to-day basis.”
But there is still a long way to go and with seven of their next eight on the road, including a Dec. 21 road game against the best team in the AJHL, Brooks Bandits (24-1-0), it’s going to get tough for the next bit.
Tapp said Los Gatos may not have the high-end point guys but they do have a team that can roll four lines, play solid in their own end and can compete with anybody. What might make the difference going forward is special teams.
“We will have success depending how well our power play (is going),” he said. Special teams is huge now the way the game has changed the way the game is called.”
They still have to be more consistent shift-to-shift and game-to-game and that may be where their ultimate destination lies as the season goes forward.
Parent said there is only one way to go about being steady on a daily basis.
“Keep it simple and make sure you’re working hard every shift.”