Bobcats give up 3 goals early in the first and fall 3-2
Recaps by Shane.
Friday evening the Bobcats would get to play host for the first time in their cohort series with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. The previous 2 games were split in Sherwood Park with two very close games. They couldn't have been much closer with the two game goal total at 6-6. Coming in to Kitscoty for the first of two games hosted by the Bobcats it would be easy to think that the Crusaders would be the team with more to prove. It showed at the onset.
The Crusaders started off the game outshooting the home side 7-0 which would result in a 1-0 lead on the man advantage 2:31 into the first. A second goal off a turnover and then a third goal (second on the power play) would have the Bobcats looking up at a 3-0 deficit. With 5:30 left in the first Tyler Schendel broke out down the left side and would not miss on a far side shot to bring the Bobcats within two, to close out the first. Fans will remember Schendel who had a shortened 2019/20 season after suffering a horrific leg injury at the showcase weekend. An injury which some predicted he may need a full calendar year before even being back on skates. Asked about the return of his speedy winger and assistant captain Nigel Dube was all positive. "He has grown mentally and physically in the last year and he puts the work in on and off the ice. He's dedicated himself to the game, a lot of people wouldn't have done what he has done to get to this point. It was nice to see him get rewarded tonight with that shot". While coach Dube wasn't happy with the start for his club he felt that the team did show some growth. "I thought we dug ourselves a hole in the first seven minutes, which wasn't a full twenty like last weekend so that's a step in the right direction. But not an ideal way to open any game up. A continued learning curve".
The second period saw a different home team come out of the gate. Physical play and intensity increased in the middle frame. Five minutes into the second Ethan Aucoin deflected a Kowaluk point shot through the 5 hole of Frey in the Crusaders goal. That would mark the rookie Aucoin's second goal and 3rd point in as many games. Kowaluk's assist would be his second of the night.
Through the final 25 the two squads would trade checks, and penalties but the score would remain the same and the Cats would fall - with some controversy - 3-2 in regulation. The controversy would come with 1 second left in the third when the tying goal would cross the line. Referees deemed the Crusaders net had been knocked of before the puck would cross the line and that would seal the fate of the home side. Still plenty of positives to be found on the nights match up and certainly on some individual performances. Lloydminsters own Jayven Leslie has been one player catching the eye of fans early in the exhibition season. Leslie posted 2 goals and 4 assists in 48 games last season. You could see his growth throughout the campaign and one could easily argue he was a different player the last quarter of the season. Asked about the young players growth Dube commented, "Lester went through a growth spurt right before last season so it took him a bit to adjust out of the gates. He had a great summer of developing and also really worked on his mental game. It's been fun to watch his development over the last twelve months. He's a guy we have leaned on early here."
Game three of the opening exhibition season marks the last time the Lloydminster team will play at the Kitscoty arena. As Covid regulations have continued to evolve the Bobcats find themselves finally able to play at home in the Civic centre Saturday and thus will bid adieu to their home away from home. Nigel Dube gave the arena and overall community of Kitscoty top marks as the teams host the last few weeks. "What an amazing community. From not having ice in the arena to hearing our situation and allowing us to call it home. The people in Kitscoty are very first class, so much respect for them working with us and allowing us to call it home. It's been fun to work with their youth hockey as well and meet the up and coming stars in the community. We can't thank them enough for what they did for us and how accommodating they were. We are back to the Civic now and looking forward to it as well".
The Bobcats don't have to wait long to be back at their main home. They host the Crusaders for game 4 of their cohort series Saturday night at 7:30. Back at the Lloydminster barn means the Bobcats will also be back on Hockey TV for those fans not able to be in attendance. Puck drop is 7:30 with the pregame show starting at 7:15.
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