Recaps by Shane
Goal Highlites: https://youtu.be/j780VVYhd1c
The typical preseason is a couple of weeks long, you play a few exhibition games, you jump into the regular season. 2020 in this regard (like so many others) would prove to be very different. The Bobcat players arrived for camp 66 days ago for a development camp for a regular season that many were unsure if it would ever come. Fast forward to Friday night and the fruit of those labours was finally realized when the players would dawn the orange and black for the first regular season game of their 2020/21 season, hosting the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
The Oil Barons started their season last weekend at home and won both games against Drayton Valley a cumulative 6-0. Evan Fradette would earn player of the week honors for his 49 saves and two shutouts. Seeing that the Cats knew they would be in tough against a stingy defence. Brightside – based on the preseason finding the back of the net has not been as problematic as previous seasons, so this would be a good test.
The visitors would start off the scoring 17 minutes into the first period. A zone entry that appeared to be offside would end up behind the Bobcats net. Former Bobcat Ty Mosimann worked from behind the net to find Nicholas McCarry who would beat Kolby Thorton to make it 1-0. 4 and a half minutes into the second period McCarry would deflect a Lucas Jones point shot on the power play and double the MOB lead, a score which would hold through the second 20.
Coming out of the room looking at 20 minutes left on the clock and staring at a goaltender who has not allowed a goal against in 8 periods of hockey would rightfully intimidate any hockey team. The Bobcats however would save their best period for the third. After 40 the MOB would lead 2-0 and hold a 23-18 advantage in shots. They needed a big period to make it close and that’s exactly what they got. 7:37 into the period Borysiuk was set up on the right side forcing a sprawling save by Fradette and the rebound would find Mack Stewart in the right place at the right time for his back hand to make it 2-1. Just over 2 minutes later strong down low play by Schendel would set up 2nd year forward Jared Miller who would break away from the defence across the top of the crease and lift a backhand past Fradette to tie things at 2 a piece. Miller in his second season seems to have found his stride – one which is generally very quick. Nigel Dube beamed about the opportunity for the Calgary product, “Millsy came in with a year of junior hockey under his belt and knowing what it takes to be a daily jr hockey player. At 17 he went through the highs and lows. He’s used his speed – which is a weapon of his – and gets opportunity from it. He’s matured on and off the ice and that is what junior hockey is about, developing”.
Momentum was clearly in the favour of the home side and they would continue to push looking for the go ahead marker. But the Oil Barons would not be beat three times and would instead turn it back the other direction. An untimely Cats penalty would result in a second power play goal with just 1:45 left on the clock making it 3-2 for the visitors. The Oil Barons would continue to fend off the home side through regulation and hold on for the win.
Certainly plenty of positives to be found in the effort for the Bobcats. After 14 days without real competition one could easily question how they would show up for the home opener. Nigel Dube commented, “I thought we started a little timid but you put the combination of not playing a game in a couple of weeks and a home opener. Once we settled in we got better as the game went on. We created opportunities and had some good zone time, at the same time there were a few parts of our game that we need to clean up”. One can always look to special teams as a reason for success or failure. Tonight the Cats had 2 power play goals against which may raise an eyebrow or two, unless you ask coach Dube about it, “you look at our first penalty kill. they had 15-20 seconds of the two minutes in our end where we missed execution and it cost us. That’s what it comes down to on special teams, and it cost us.” Overall Dube was pleased with the game, “I liked our group as a whole tonight. We made a few adjustments on the lines through 60. Comes down to scoring on opportunity, we’re looking to split the weekend.”
Bobcats will have that opportunity Saturday night back at the Civic Centre when they will host the MOB for game two of their season and the weekend. Puck drop as always is at 7:30, it’s another sold out game so be sure to catch the action on Hockey TV.