By Shane Tomayer
Next Game: Tuesday vs Whitecourt at 7:00PM
Goal Highlights: https://youtu.be/2kuQNjMgqO8
With wins in 3 straight the Bobcats seem to have found a groove as of late, and the Civic Centre buzzing with positivity pre-game as a result. Friday evening they’d played one of their more complete games of the season in a win over the Oilers, and now were going into what on paper looked to be a very even match up with the Drumheller Dragons – coming to town for a Sunday matinee.
The Cats opened the scoring 3:17 into the opening frame. Jayven Leslie had a case of ‘right place right time’, when a puck hit him and ricocheted over the Dragons netminder. That lead was short lived however as the Dragons answered back 13 seconds later to reset the score.
The score held even until 6:26 into the second period when the Dragons moved the puck back door on a vulnerable Freddie Halyk and tapped in the go ahead goal. Just a couple minutes later Manvilles own Jordan Borysiuk (on a great individual effort) stuck with the play and executed a textbook wrap around and evened the score at 2.
Before the end of the second the Dragons would (quickly) capitalize on a power play with Nik Hoogendoorn barely seated yet in the penalty box, closing the period ahead 3-2. The visitors would hold the one goal lead until the midway point of the third period. Rylan Ringor was deep in the offensive zone when he fed the puck to Bygrove in the high slot who quickly transferred to Connor Burke at the left face off circle. Burke had come close on a couple other opportunities earlier in the game and wasted no time on a quick shot that would even the score. Burke had been buzzing all game. He had a grade A chance off a very slick toe drag in the second period as well. The product from Calgary is a fan favourite and his effort and his compete level rarely waivers. It seems whenever he scores there is a little extra lift in the Civic and on the Cats bench. Coach Dube commented on the production and progress of Connor Burke, “When looking at a players growth and development like Burkie it’s good to see how far he’s come from last year.” Dube continued, “We’ve seen scoring by numbers of late, which is what we need and will continue to need”. In 43 games last season Burke totalled 1 goal and 3 assists, through 20 this campaign he has 4 goals and 3 assists.
Regulation time would end with shots even at 31 and the score square at 3 a side. The Cats are no strangers to extra time. 5 of their 19 games have taken beyond 60 minutes. In overtime the Cats were 3-1, adding 1 shootout win on top of that, in their lone shootout (win) of the season back on September 17 vs Whitecourt.
The OT period was hampered by a tripping call when Ben Bygrove was tied up battling for a puck and tripped a Dragon forward. The home side managed the puck well and killed the penalty before adding a couple of chances and heading to the shootout. After the opening 3 shooters the two sides remained even, but the fourth round resulted in a Dragons goal and a Cats, miss ending the game with the Bobcats first shootout loss of the season.
While the game was played very even coach Dube found holes in the home teams play, “It was a slow start for our group, I thought we fought the puck and didn’t have the puck compete that we needed until the latter part of the game.”
One other player of note Sunday afternoon was defenseman and team captain Ben Bygrove. Bygrove came into Sunday on a 5 game point drought. Still tied for 2nd in team points he was looking to get back on the sheet and did exactly that with a pair of assists. Nigel Dube talked about his captain and the change in his game over his 4+ seasons of Jr A hockey, “He’s our captain and heart and soul guy. The most growth of his game is in all the little things he does. HIs 200′ game has come a long way and the consistency within it from each game. His offensive ability is an added bonus”.
Next action for the Bobcats comes Tuesday November 15th when Whitecourt will visit the border city. On the season the Cats are 3-0 against their North rival. Most recently the Bobcats beat the Wolverines at the Scott Safety Centre 3-2 on November 4th.