This start isn't at all what the Lloydminster Bobcats pictured entering the season, but they aren't pushing the panic button yet.
The 'Cats dropped to 0-5-0 on the season after two losses in Grande Prairie this past weekend – losing 4-2 Friday and 5-2 Saturday night.
While head coach Ryan Parent isn't making excuses, he did say his team played better the second game and probably deserved a better result.
“I thought we were a little lacklustre for the first game, but the second game the boys bounced back and played hard. Unfortunately the result is what it is,” Parent said.
On top of the two losses, starting goaltender Chase Martin was involved in an incident which saw him receive a match penalty leading to a three game suspension.
Grande Prairie forward Taylor Cote was instigated things and picked up a five minute goaltender interference penalty, on top of a fighting major and was suspended two games for his actions.
With the suspension to Martin, rookie goalie Kyle Baumgardner will be the man between the pipes to guide the 'Cats for the next few games.
“We're going to give Baumer the run here. He's certainly earned that, so we're going to give him a good run here and go from there,” Parent said, not worrying about playing a rookie goalie.
The 18-year-old Baumgardner said he is excited about his opportunity and just wants to help the Bobcats get back on track and pick up a few wins.
“I'm new to the league so I'm trying to keep my composure and keep calm. I don't want it to go to my head right now. I still have to prove myself,” he said. “I always have to earn my ice time, but with his incident it gives me an opportunity to prove myself.”
Baumgarnder has played in two games so far this season, starting the third game of the year against Camrose at home and coming in to relieve Martin during Saturday's game in Grande Prairie.
He said those two games have helped him get ready for the starting role that he's taking on for the next little while.
“I was pretty nervous to start out, it was my first AJ (AJHL) start so I was nervous off the start, but once I settled in I felt pretty comfortable,” he explained.
Baumgardner, who spent last season at the Edge School in Calgary is originally from Edmonton, and said he likes to keep things simple in net and not get too excited during games.
“I really rely on positioning a lot. I like to stay square to all the pucks and let them come to me. So more than making myself work harder to stop pucks, I let the pucks come to me,” Baumgardner explained.
Baumgardner was born in Airdrie, Alta. And played his bantam hockey with the Xtreme there before heading to the Edge School, where he played from midget AA all the way up to last season, where he was with the main prep team.
Parent said Baumgardner beat out a lot of very good goalies to earn a spot on the team and there are a few things he's noticed that he likes out of the young goalies' game.
“I like his hands, I think he's very quick and good with pucks in tight. He does a lot of things well and he's a big kid so he fills the net up good and I think he'll be good going forward for us,” Parent said.
Regardless of who is in net for the Bobcats, they are looking to right the ship as quickly as possible and Parent knows the wins will come, but he, along with the players on the team, would like it to come this weekend.
“We need to follow up and keep building on what we did and what we started with in the second game in Grande Prairie. We need to follow up and we need to be better, bottom line,” Parent stated.
Baumgardner agreed with his coach and said the team needs to step up this weekend, where they have two home games, and crack the win column.
“I think we've started to come together more as a team and this last weekend we spent a day in Wainwright at the Military Base and really came together as a team,” he said. “We spent a lot of time together and I feel we're bonding as a team and I think practices we've worked harder for each other rather than just ourselves. We now have that mentality that we're a team and not trying to do it ourselves.”
The 'Cats host the Calgary Mustangs Friday night and the Olds Grizzlys Saturday.
Both games are schedule for 7:30 p.m. Starts at the Civic Centre.
– Robb Fenton (The Source)