Bralin Technology Solutions Game Recap
by Shane Tomayer
Fin for the Win!!
Hopeful, optimistic, apprehensive… maybe a few adjectives to describe thoughts of Lloydminster Bobcats faithful heading into Wednesdays match up against the North Division rival Sherwood Park Crusaders. Both teams would show up to the Civic Centre 3-4-0 to start out the 21/22 campaign. The home side Bobcats were coming off a strong showing at the annual AJHL Showcase with 6-5 wins over the Canucks and the Grizzlies. The Cru on the other hand split their weekend with a 4-2 loss to the host Bandits and a 5-4 overtime win against Drumheller. So a game dubbed ‘the fight for 500’ had plenty of opportunity for excitement and potentially some drama – spoiler, both were enjoyed by the home fans. Adding extra backstory to the game this would be the first contest for Zafir Rawji and Tanner Fincaryk against their former team – after being acquired in the off season by the Lloydminster club.
Off the opening face off the Crusaders seemed to be the aggressor. Early on outshooting the home side by a healthy margin (20-10 after 20 minutes). The Bobcats struggled to have clean possession leaving their own zone early and the Cru seemed to take advantage firing shot after shot at Kolby Thornton in the Cats end. 12:44 into the frame though former Crusader Tanner Fincaryk would jump on a loose puck in the low slot to beat Bilyn and open the scoring for the contest, assists given to Aucoin and McLean. 6 minutes later the Crusaders would even the score on a play in tight, though Aucoin would answer 33 seconds after to regain the lead to end the first period.
Period two started much differently than the opener. Cats would come out with the same pep they ended the first with, and 33 seconds into the frame Fincaryk would create a turn over at his own blueline, chase the puck the length of the ice and put his second of the night past Bilyn for the Cats third of the evening. This would stand as enough to win the game, but the Cats were far from done there. In the second Fincaryk would add an assist for good measure on the 4th of the night for a three point performance against his former team. Not to be outdone McLean (1G, 2A), Aucoin (1G, 2A), Swanson (1G, 2A) would each pot a trio of points on the evening in a decisive 8-2 over Sherwood Park. Matthew Swanson showcased his elite level shooting ability late in the third capitalizing on a defenders error and releasing an absolute bullet short side to cap off the scoring. Also worth noting Lloydminsters own Jayven Leslie scored his first of the season and followed it up with an assist both in the second period.
A win such as this warranted a trip to the history books. It is no secret the Lloydminster Bobcats have struggled the last few seasons. Celebrations have been far more seldom than any of the Border City faithful would care to acknowledge. 8 goals for any team is a significant number obviously. The last time the Bobcats put up 8 goals in a game was Sunday October 29, 2017 (1439 days ago) at the Ken Brako arena in Calgary when the Cats upended the Canucks 8-1, lead by current RIT Tiger and local product Kobe Walker who scored three times in the win. Also notable from this evening’s win was it being the Cats third in a row, again something that has not happened often as of late. January 27-February 7th 2018 that same season was the last time the Cats went on a three game win streak, against the Oil Barons, Pontiacs and Thunder. Led in part by the aforementioned Kobe Walker with 6 points in those three games and Zach Kaiser (U Mass Lowell) with 5 points of his own.
Plenty of positives were seen throughout the game. Obviously the win is great. The Cats improved their season PP% by nearly 4 points on a goal by Mack Stewart. Additionally when shorthanded on two occasions the Cats were relentless and came away perfect on the PK improving their season numbers to over 80% efficiency.
When both Rawji and Fincaryk were asked about the win post game it was mostly about the teams success for both forwards. Fincaryk – “It’s always nice to have success against your former team. That’s an outcome we want to see. 6 goals in each of our last couple games but keeping their score a little lower this time was nice”. Rawji who hit the crossbar late added, “We locked it down defensively, we said at the start we were taking it like any other game. But obviously for me and Finny it’s in the back of our minds that that’s our old team so we wanted to come away with 2 points, and the group did a great job tonight of making sure we were good for a full 60 minutes.” He would continue, “We’re gonna keep going and roll into Fort Mac this weekend and hopefully it keeps going, we’ve just gotta keep playing our game”.
Beaming on Fincaryk’s success coach Dube would add, “Finny had created a lot of opportunities last week at the showcase and wasn’t able to finish on it. I thought he stuck to the game plan in his 200 foot game and was rewarded for it. I’m sure he had this game circled on the calendar being his first against his old club.”
On the overall result Dube continued, “We made a few adjustments after the first period and our players were able to execute on them. A big part of it was sticking to the game plan we had laid out, it was good to see the consistent effort throughout. We continue to grow game by game. We will go up against a tough Fort Mac team which will be a great test once again. We need to continue to build on it”.
The Bobcats take to the road Friday and Saturday this week against the Oil Barons before returning to the CCC next Wednesday for a third straight against the 5-2-0 Mob.