South Split Closes Out Bobcats’ 2013
It was not quite the result the Bobcats were after, but the team managed to collect two points in their final two games of 2013 thanks to a 3-1 victory on Friday evening over the Calgary Canucks that was followed by a 5-3 loss to the Canmore Eagles the next night.
With many players from the southern half of Alberta, the Bobcats played in front of numerous fans at the Max Bell Arena in Calgary on Friday night against the Canucks. Affiliated player Evan Tschumi of the Calgary Flames Midget AAA, who stands at 6’2 at only 16 years old, joined the team at forward for his first career AJHL game. Austin McDonald started the scoring at 9:18 of the first period, beating the Canucks’ Colin Cooper five-hole on a two on one pass from Braden Crone. The Bobcats would relinquish the lead three minutes later, coughing the puck up in their own zone to the Canucks’ Derek Thorogood, who made no mistake on Devin Green. Neither team was able to break the 1-1 tie in the second period, but after trailing in shots through the first period, Lloydminster would outshoot the home team in the second frame. The Bobcats were finally able to crack the hot Cooper in the third period thanks to a goal from the slot by forward Lukas Biensch, who was able to finish off some nice board work from McDonald and Tschumi. Linden Springer capped off a strong individual performance by picking off a Canucks pass and scoring the empty net goal with 52 seconds remaining to give the Bobcats the 3-1 victory. Green (12-11-2) stopped 20 of 21 shots to earn the win while Cooper made 39 of 41 saves in the loss.
The next night would not prove to be so successful for the Bobcats. Canmore Eagles defenceman Trey Philips finished off a nice move with a forehand shot high blocker on Bobcats’ Sean Kuehn to put the Bobcats behind 1-0 in the first period. Eagles goaltender Ryan Ferguson kept Lloydminster off the score sheet in the first period, turning aside 10 shots while his team managed nine. A busy second period started with a goal from Canmore’s Lane Olson. Troy Rapuano got the Bobcats into the game with a nice individual effort, going high glove after forcing a turnover in the Eagles’ zone to make it 2-1. Rapuano, who has brought a consistent work ethic for the Bobcats all season, was rewarded for his strong play with his second goal of the night to tie the game at 2-2. The rookie forward banged in the puck after shots from Nolan Yaremchuk and Lukas Biensch left Ferguson out of position. The Eagles would answer right back, regaining the lead on a two on one goal from Kurt Hildebrand just 44 seconds later. A strong effort in the third period would pay off for the Bobcats, who were able to tie the game at 3-3 when Cole Porter redirected a shot from Patrick Geary. Tying the score for the second time in the game, the Bobcats would once again fail to keep the momentum going, as the team allowed Eagles’ Jordan Revie to score on a two on one a mere 40 seconds after the Bobcats’ tying goal to put the Eagles ahead 4-3. A pass in the Bobcats end was intercepted in the final minute by the Eagles’ Joe Serpico, who deked out Kuehn to get the last goal of the game and make it 5-3 Eagles. Springer was ejected from the game for a hit to the head in a scrum after the Eagles’ fifth goal, and could face further league suspension. Kuehn (7-5-2) was strapped with the loss despite his team outshooting the Eagles 36 to 25.
McDonald, Rapuano, and Biensch all picked up two points on the two game South Division road trip while AP Tschumi earned his first career AJHL point on Friday in Calgary. The Bobcats sits in third place in the AJHL North Division with 44 points and a record of (19-16-4) heading into the Christmas break. While Associate Coach Kyle Tapp is happy with Lloydminster’s spot in the standings, he knows the hockey club is capable of more, “we know we need to get better; we need to figure out a way to get to another level. We’ve had some ups and downs this season but we need to pull it together for these last 21 games.” Tonight’s loss is the team’s sixth loss in the last ten games, a stark contrast to their first 29 games, which saw the team go 15-11-3. “We’ve been floating through the last ten games and have been getting away with marginal success but have not had near the effort, compete, passion, sacrifice, and desire that we played with at the beginning of the season.” However, Tapp says the team’s strong play in the third period against Canmore gives the players something to be optimistic about when returning in January for the end of the season, “our message to the players was to bring the last twenty minutes back with you after Christmas and come back ready to work.”
With four points up on the Sherwood Park Crusaders and the Whitecourt Wolverines, the team will start 2014 on the road in Fort McMurray for two games on January 3 & 4 against the Oil Barons. “We need to be ready,” said Tapp, “we need to compete like we did in the last twenty minutes here tonight. It will be up to the players to come back and do what it takes to beat the best teams in the country.”
As the team heads into their Christmas break, the organization would like to thank all volunteers, fans, billets, and sponsors for their support of the organization. The team looks forward to getting back in action in front of their loyal fans at home on January 10 against the Olds Grizzlys and January 11 against the Whitecourt Wolverines ahead of Scotiabank Hockey Day In Canada on January 18!
For the community, the players put together their own rendition of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, which can be found here: http://youtu.be/YUPDIc7HzKs
Merry Christmas Lloydminster!