Photo and story courtesy of Gordon Anderson/Meridian Booster
It may not be this year but someday the Bobcats are going to figure out how to win close games consistently.
In a hard-fought, low-chance affair the ‘Cats dropped a 1-0 shootout decision to the Drayton Valley Thunder in front of 1,164 fans at the Civic Centre on Saturday night.
The winning goal came in the fifth round when Neil Tarnasky beat Lloyd goalie Chase Martin to the glove side with a wrist shot.
Dustin Lebrun scored the only goal for the Bobcats in the first round.
Head coach Ryan Parent was pretty positive about his team’s play despite the loss.
“When you work like that the wins will come,” he said. “The work ethic was there and the game plan was there. We didn’t give Drayton a thing all game.”
The refrain of losing close games goes on and on but it’s a statistical anomaly how Los Gatos is on the wrong end of outcomes decided by the slimmest of margins.
The last five home games have been a microcosm of the season to date.
With the exception of Friday night’s 5-1 loss to the Thunder the remaining four games were one-goal decisions. They went 1-3-1 dining on home cooking.
And in the shootout they managed to ping the post once and hit the crossbar with their last two attempts.
Newly acquired forward Tanner Dunkle hasn’t played a part in this season’s difficulties but he must have walked under a ladder getting to the rink. With the game on his stick he smacked his wrist shot off the left post with the second attempt.
“It was heartbreaking,” Dunkle said about the shootout. “I thought we had it in the books when we got the first goal but they come down and get the lucky one (off the post and in) and we go down and hit the (crossbar). It’s just not going in for us right now.”
Parent said the team is still rowing the boat in the same direction and the law of averages will rectify themselves. He is not using luck as an excuse for anything.
“They’ll come,” Parent said of the breaks. “It’s a hard game but if you work hard you get rewarded.”
Dunkle thinks the mood in the room is still pretty positive despite the trying times.
“It been pretty good,” he said about the work ethic and attitude on the team. “We stay positive on the bench and as long as we stay out of the (penalty) box, like we did tonight, we can do some damage. We competed hard (tonight).”
There wasn’t much in terms of chances in the first and second period as both teams kept everything to the outside, leaving the goalies with little work to do in terms of difficult chances.
Drayton Valley (12-10-2) did a get a two minute five-on-three with 1:20 left in the second period but were ineffective. Unlike Friday night where the ‘Cats (3-15-4) gave up three power-play goals in 10 chances, on Saturday they were top notch, killing all seven minors.
Parent wasn’t particularly pleased with the officiating and he tossed a mild barb or two the referee’s way.
“I never like to comment on the officiating because (it’s) out of our control so, I don’t even want to allude to that,” he said.
Both goalies had a big hand in keeping the score at zero In the third.
A minute after killing a two-minute five-on-three, Martin was forced to make a nice left leg save on a breakaway and at 10:55 Thunder goalie Mitch Maraschiello, pushed off his left post, went into the splits and flashed out the right leg, absolutely robbing Spencer Johnstone of a sure goal.
From there it was just a matter of grinding it down until the extra period because both teams were ultra conservative at both ends.
Up next for the Bobcats is a road game against the Sherwood Park Crusaders.. The puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. tonight.