Spruce Grove Saints at Lloydminster Bobcats Wed. Aug. 28th, 2019
Written by: Tyler Campbell
The Lloydminster Bobcats opened up their pre-season Wednesday night at home to the Spruce Grove Saints, coming out on the short end of the stick as the Saints took this one by a 6-3 score.
The Saints jumped on the Bobcats early, with 3 goals in the first 4 minutes of the game from Luigi Benincasa, Cole Bassnet, and Seth Fyten (the latter two of which were on the power play). The Bobcats managed to gain their footing as the period went on and before the opening frame was over they had cut the lead to 3-1 with a goal from 16 year old defenceman Tegan Skehar. The Saints managed to regain their 3 goal lead, again on the power play early in the 2nd as this time it was Evan Arnold poking in a loose puck. The Bobcats cut the deficit again to two late in the period on a beautiful breakaway goal by Nolen Coventry. The Saints were quick to respond and at the end of the 2nd, Spruce Grove had a 5-2 advantage. The Bobcats came out with a lot of energy to start the third as both the fore-check and physical games ramped up, and resulted in a man advantage. However, Seth Fyten managed to steal the puck while shorthanded and got a bit of a weird one past Bobcats netminder Simi Gill to put the Saints up four. The Bobcats didn’t let the score discourage the effort level on this night though and the 5 on 4 soon turned into a 5 on 3 and they cashed in as Nolen Coventry put home his 2nd of the evening. That would be all the Cats could get past Saints goaltender Max Duchesne in the 3rd though, as Spruce Grove went home with the victory. Final shots on goal were Spruce Grove 33, Lloydminster 18.
Head coach Nigel Dube was good with the team’s effort after the game. “It was an opportunity for guys to get into their first junior hockey game, we only scrimmaged once during camp so it was getting back into the game mode. Once guys got settled in after those four or five minutes things got better for them” Dube said. He went onto say “We will continue to work on areas of our game, a lot of things happen quicker and we will continue to grow each day. I think overall there are a lot of positives to what we have here!” Coach Dube, though disappointed with the loss, was keeping it well within perspective. “First game of the year for us, they had played a few exhibition and scrimmages already this week and it was the first taste for our guys”
As Dube pointed out, there were several positives to take away from the game. Of note for myself was the play of the Bobcats top pairing of Gunner Kinniburgh formerly of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, and rookie Tegan Skehar. Kinniburgh played a very sound game in his own end and as the game went on was ramping up his physicality making four very impactful hits in the final 25 minutes of the game. Skehar opened the scoring for the Bobcats late in the first period, will likely be credited with an assist on the 3rd Bobcats goal, and played as active and composed of a game as you’ll see from a 16 year old defenceman. Nolen Coventry (who also came over from Fort McMurray this off-season) was perhaps the Cats top forward on the night. Two goals will always look good on the stat sheet, but he was full value for them as he played with a lot of jump all evening.
The Cats are next in action Tuesday night as they travel to Spruce Grove to again take on the Saints. The Bobcats next in action at home against the SJHL’s North Battleford North Stars on Saturday September 7th. The regular season gets going on Friday September 13th as the Bobcats are in Sherwood Park to take on Carter Savoie and the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
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