Wednesday night brought an end to the Lloydminster Bobcats 2019-20 season, with the Olds Grizzlys in town for the final showdown of the season. It was Lloydminster and District Co-Op pink in the rink night, the Cats were looking for their 4th win in their final 7 games to close out the season, and for Cats assistant captain Chance Adrian, the team’s lone 20 year old, it was an opportunity to go out on a high note.
The Cats came out flying and ended up out shooting the Grizzlys 17-12 in the opening frame, but it would be the Grizzlys who emerged with a 1-0 lead as with just 14 a point shot from Josh McNeil found the back of the net.
It’s always a concern when you outplay your opponent in a period and they come out with the lead, especially when it’s a goal in the final minute that is from a fortunate bounce as the McNeil goal was, those are normally backbreakers. Especially for a young team. But it was another sign of how far the Bobcats have come this season as they shook it off, and at 6:20 of the 2nd, Mack Stewart would keep the puck on a 2 on 1 and beat Grizzlys starter Ty Marcinkowski to tie the game. They didn’t stop there as just 2:23 later it would be Cam Aucoin making a pretty centring pass to Alex Danis who was driving the net and was able to redirect the Aucoin pass into the back of the net and it was 2-1. Then just 1:25 after that, on the power-play, it would be Chance Adrian in his final game in a Bobcats uniform sending a backhander towards the net that Nolen Coventry was able to tip in. 3 goals in 3:48 and the Bobcats were in control. The Grizzlys would get one back as former Bobcat Logan Bromhead made a great feed to Daine Milgate and Bobcats netminder Josh Dias had no chance as Milgate tipped it in. 3-2 Cats after 40.
You had to wonder if the Bobcats were going to have one of those nights where no matter how much they did right, things weren’t going to bounce there way as 5:08 into the 3rd the Grizzlys tied the game off the stick of Brendan McBride got a weird one past Dias. Once again though, the Cats showed how resilient of a team they had become throughout the season and continued to tilt the ice in their favour. Finally at 13:40, Ty Mosimann would steal the puck and rip one far side on Marcinkowski to make it 4-3. The Grizzlys would push in the final minute, but the Cats held strong and to cap off the regular season, Jayvon Leslie made a great play to get the puck up to Cam Aucoin who would seal it right at the end of the game (19:59 officially, but it turned out to be the final play of the game and the season). The Bobcats go out on a high with a 5-3 victory.
After the game I caught up with Bobcats head coach Nigel Dube who had these thoughts on the game. “Awesome way to finish off the year. Through the last 11 we’re 4-5-2, a lot of people are probably looking at that and looking at our growth over the year. What a crowd tonight too. Hats off to the Lloydminster and District Co-Op for the kindness wins pink in the rink…it was just awesome. Exclamation point on the month. And credit to this group in there. It was a special group that I think is going to be looked back on with the foundation they’ve laid here for the Bobcats.” I couldn’t interview Dube this time around without getting his thoughts on Chance Adrian after wrapping up his AJHL career. “Chance is a special person, a special player. What he brings to the organization or any organization every day with his heart and his passion is amazing. When we brought in Tegan Skehar as a 16 year old, we put Tegan with Chance to lead him and teach him the right ways, that demonstrated exactly what he is and what he means to this organization. I saw the 113 games he’s played here, he’s a bright spot and wears his heart on his sleeve. I could go on for hours about what a great kid he is.” Finally, I asked Dube about how bright the future is for the organization with all but one player eligible to return in the fall. “The biggest part when we go back and talked about what needed to be done this season was to establish a foundation. And that kind of phrase maybe got lost a little along the way when you have your tough weeks or your tough games when people ask what’s going on, but I don’t think within the organization that was ever lost and that was the path we continued on. We went young, we stayed young, and we matured throughout the year and we grew as it went on. And credit to the 22 guys in the dressing room. It wasn’t easy for them, and yet the work ethic that they brought everyday whether it was in the room, on the ice, in the gym, or in the community being the spectacular role models they were. They performed every day with a smile on, and it speaks to their character.”
So that’s a wrap on the 2019-20 season for the Lloydminster Bobcats. It was a rebuilding season where we saw the Bobcats truly grow. When organizations go through rebuilding phases at any level, there is always going to be pain, and not necessarily growth. And this season had its pain. But throughout the season, the games got tighter, the wins became more frequent, and by the end they had managed to get wins against two of the best teams not only in the AJHL but in the CJHL (which were the top ranked teams in the country at the time of the wins by the Cats). By the end of the season, people were going to the rink expecting the Cats to win as opposed to hoping they’d win. The future is extremely bright for this organization, and it’s going to be an exciting 20-21 season! See you in the fall!
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