Bobcats comeback to beat Sherwood Park Crusaders
– Recaps by Shane –
Friday night saw the Cats lose in the dying seconds of the third period to what was the best team in the AJHLs regular season for 2019/20. It was a close fought game and certainly not much would need to change in the game plan for game two Saturday night back in Sherwood Park. ?We went over video this morning on areas we felt we could clean up and continue to build on. We needed to match our compete from the start of the game? said coach Dube. Unfortunately that wasn?t the case for the Saturday night affair. The first twenty was predominantly controlled by the Crusaders who seemingly found another gear for the second match up. The opening frame ended with the home side ahead by a pair and dominating the shot clock.
Changes needed to be made for the middle period and Nigel was asked what was said during intermission to get things turned. ?Welcome to junior hockey where what you did yesterday doesn?t mean a thing. Our group was challenged to be better and they stepped up to the plate. A learning lesson early in which we do not want to make a habit. It was a solid bounce back forty? Dube commented. Stepped up they did as the visiting side would take over in the second period. It would start with a beautifully executed 5 on 3 power play where Morrow would take a pass from Dalton Irvine and find a seam across the front of the net to rookie Ethan Aucoin alone beside the net. The younger Aucoin would make no mistake finding twine and getting the Bobcats within one. Thirteen minutes later the older Cousin and Cat veteran Cameron Aucoin would capitalize on a chance and even things up with just over four minutes left in the second. Asked specifically about the man advantage goal Coach Dube was beaming adding ?I really liked our power play both nights. We scored last night as one expired so it doesn?t count on the game sheet. The units can feed off each other and going over video from yesterday we made slight changes. Overall for two games we liked it, amount of grade A?s and looks for the first two games was there. We scored on it tonight which was a goal of the units?.
The final frame makes for a new game when all things are even as they were tonight. The battle continued back and forth with the Crusaders seemingly trying to intimidate by increasing their physical game. One player not to be intimidated is Chad MacLean and he would put the Cats into the drivers seat 6:15 into the third, Ethan Aucoin would pick up an assist for his second point of the night. A minute and a half later the captain Gunner Kinniburgh would rifle a point shot from the left side that Lloydminsters own Jayven Leslie would deflect past Blake Dehr in his first AJHL game. That would mark four unanswered goals and provide some cushion for the Cats. The Crusaders would get within one with 1:39 left in regulation but the score would stay at 4-3 and the first half of the series would be split.
Goaltending is always a factor at this level. More so when you face elite competition like the Crusaders. With Thornton getting the start Friday it would only be natural that the coaching staff would look towards Eden Prairie, Minnesota?s Axel Rosenlund. ?There is no doubt he was tested early in the first. We gave up a lot of high percentage chances and he did well. The save in the third period was a highlight, nice part now is our goalie coach has some game footage to go back to work on Monday with both Kolby and Axel. I like our tandem there? said Dube.
Another competition with plenty of positives. 10 players would come away with points between the first two games. As is regularly the case eyes are on the new recruits early in the season to see what pieces have been added. Dalton Irvine and Ethan Aucoin both stood out with 5 points between them, and again Dube had plenty of positives to say on their performances. ?When we recruited both of them we were looking for them to bring their offensive ability to our team. We will work on rounding out their game. We mixed our lines and pairings up tonight and the guys around were able to get them pucks as well. They add a nice mix to our group?.
With games done for the long weekend the Lloydminster Bobcats have plenty to be thankful for. Certainly a small sample size and exhibition hockey is just that. However with the nature of the development season teams definitely have more reps in going into these first cohort series games. The exhibition season will continue next weekend when the Cats will host the Crusaders, who make the trek East to the Border City for a pair of games. Details on game time and location will be announced early in the week.