Bralin Technology Solutions Recaps
by Shane Tomayer
On occasion a long break at the holiday season for a team on a roll can create issues. Chemistry can falter and bad habits can sneak in. After 13 days off the Bobcats returned to the Civic Friday night and it looked at the very least like there may have been some rust build up over the 2 week break.
A team whose starts have been so important all season did not have a good start against the Whitecourt Wolverines. The Wolverines opened the scoring just 2:49 into the game and the home side was forced to chase the score all night long. Setter, MacGillivray and rookie Alessio Nardelli all scored for the home team, but 5 goals against including an empty net goal with 31 seconds left would prove to be too much Friday night.
Brad Rihela was content with the effort of the Bobcats but recognized there was some rust in all areas of the ice.
Saturday night provided a chance for redemption for the Cats. The AJHL season has officially hit the point where you have ‘must win’ games. For the Bobcats sitting middle of the pack and within grasp of a top 5 spot in the standings you simply have to beat the teams below you.
At puck drop the Thunder carried a record of 12-22-1. One of those 22 losses one was provided by the Bobcats back on December 5th at the Omniplex in Drayton. The Bobcats on the other hand were 6-3 in the month of december and 20-19 on the season, 15 points ahead of their visitors.
While the Thunder clearly came to play a physical game and battle with the Bobcats they struggled at times to keep up with the Bobcats. Ben Aucoin opened the scoring for the home team 6:29 into the game. A goal which would put the sophomore forward beyond his previous season point total in 14 fewer games.
From there the Bobcats would continue to roll. Two goals by MacGillivray – one in the first and a second in the middle frame. Followed by Caden Cabana scoring shorthanded late in the 3rd period and then a regular strength tally by Jett Kozman in the final minute would seal the deal.
The Bobcats had 4 goal scorers and two players with multi-point games but it was Jack Solomon stealing the show… again.
Going into the Christmas break Solomon put up back to back shutouts against the Bulldogs and Grizzlies. His first 2 shutouts at this level resulting in the St. Louis product receiving AJHL Rookie of the Week honours. Saturday night he was back to form stopping all 35 shots against, for his 3rd shut out in his past 4 starts. Asked about the recent stymying of opposing goal scorers a humble Solomon was a bit bashful. “I think it’s about mindset. I wanted to end off the year on a good note. The guys in front of me have been playing really well and our PK has been doing really well lately and I think that’s the biggest help”.
Brad Rihela was slightly more willing to pour some favour on his goaltender. “He played excellent. Extremely sharp right from the first shot. Really happy for him, it was a great response”.
Overall after Saturday night Rihela was pleased with the response to the Friday night loss. “Great bounce back for our group. We were a lot better in terms of defending fast and winning pucks back which allowed us to get on the attack more. We played with a lot of grit and courage. Jeff & I are really proud of the effort.”
The PK of the Bobcats has improved as of late. Between Friday and Saturday the kill was successful in 7 of 8 attempts. Asked about the improvement Rihela gave full credit to the players, “Details and desperation were the key for our PK. They did a great job maintaining composure and getting the job done at key points in the game”.
The Bobcats next action will come on the road as they’ll play in Okotoks, Canmore and Calgary from January 6-7. That will lead the Border City club into a 5 game home stand between the 13th and 24th.