Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com
In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing Saturday’s clash between the Lloydminster Bobcats and Bonnyville Pontiacs wasn’t featured as part of CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada celebrations.
As Hockey Day in Lloydminster was pushed back to next year, Saturday’s game between the two rivals became just another game – and just another loss for the last-place Bobcats as they fell 7-3 to the Pontiacs.
Despite the Bobcats outshooting the Pontiacs, and even outplaying them for large stretches, a number of breakdowns cost the boys in orange.
“We fought really hard and we really battled with them but just broke down in some crucial moments, that’s what hurts us the most,” said forward Austin McDonald. “It’s tough trying to come back from that.”
The Bobcats entered the first intermission down 3-1, but came out strong to start the second. And just 4:20 into the frame Tanner Clarkson took a Liam McNamara feed in the slot and waited out Pontiacs goaltender Stephen Klein before lifting a backhander top shelf.
But from then on it was all Pontiacs, capitalizing on a number of Bobcat mistakes in the neutral zone and more often than not burying the puck past ‘Cats goaltender Chase Martin.
“That’s how most of these teams play, they play physical, they play hard, they come in waves, they don’t stop. And they wait for turnovers and they counter, counter, counter,” said interim head coach Kyle Tapp. “They’re a playoff-ready team, our guys are still learning some things.”
Tanner Dusyk restored the two-goal lead for the Pontiacs just over four minutes later, taking a pass on the rush from Ty Carey and firing a wrist shot over the shoulder of the challenging Martin.
Just 26 seconds later the Pontiacs tallied once again – Tommy Barszcz found a yawning cage after Martin kicked out a rebound right onto his stick. Like the previous marker, the goal was off of a Bobcats turnover.
“We just gotta bear down, especially (at) the blue line, we can get a lot of momentum just coming in and getting on the forecheck early and not giving them anything,” said McDonald.
The Pontiacs stretched their lead to five with a pair of third period goals before Dustin Lebrun’s marker with under three minutes to play made it 7-3.
The amount of costly turnovers, which carried over into the third period, left Tapp scratching his head.
“It’s either for a lack of knowledge or a lack of want. There’s a game plan in place, they’ve seen it work, they’ve seen it on video, they’ve seen their teammates do it, some guys want to do it, other guys don’t,” he said.
Though he surrendered seven goals on 24 shots, Martin didn’t have much of a chance on most of the goals.
“There’s some you could look back at and think ‘oh, that would be a key save,’ and what not, but I don’t think the blame goes to Chase Martin,” added Tapp.
Goaltender Devin Green missed the game with a concussion.
The Bobcats host the division-leading Spruce Grove Saints tonight at the Civic Centre.