There was 8:52 to play in the 3rd period when Brendan Morrow gained the zone on Saturday night at the Centennial Civic Centre against the Drayton Valley Thunder. The Thunder had a 2-0 lead. Shots were 39-24, also in favour of the Thunder. And Morrow was on his own as the rest of his line-mates were making a change, so he was 1 on 4. This game simply had a feeling that it just wasn’t going to be the Bobcats night…
After a fast paced 1st period between the two teams produced zero’s on the scoreboard, the Thunder got it rolling in the 2nd. Colson Gegenbach, after hitting the crossbar early in his shift, and then getting stopped point blank by Cats starter Garrett Larsen, refused to be denied as he one-timed a puck that bounced off the boards perfectly for him to hammer home and the Thunder had a 1-0 lead. The Thunder continued to tilt the ice and finally were rewarded with their 2nd goal of the frame as Bailey Tomminga drilled one past Larsen from the right dot that was in off the back crossbar, wouldn’t be shocked if it made a dent, and the Thunder not only had a 2-0 lead but were all over the Cats. Shots in the 2nd were 19-9 for the Thunder in the period, and the scoring chances were likely more lopsided than that for Drayton Valley. Following the game Bobcats head coach Nigel Dube said of the period “I thought in the 2nd period we were awful, and there’s no other way to put it. We didn’t compete hard, we cheated the game, and they got 2.”
As things got going in the 3rd, the Bobcats weren’t able to generate much. They were executing better, but the ice was still tilted in Drayton Valley’s favour as Larsen was doing everything he could to keep it a 2-0 game, and he did just that making two or three excellent saves, and finished the evening with an outstanding 38 saves on 40 shots sent his way by the Thunder. Then came that Morrow zone entry…
As I said, 1 on 4 didn’t give Morrow many options and the Thunder were able to corral the puck, but couldn’t get it out past Cats defenceman Cole Jungwirth who threw the puck to the slot. With Morrow having worked his way into the slot, he had the presence of mind to find Chance Adrian, fresh off the bench and all alone behind him in the slot and Adrian buried it to not only make it a 2-1 game but completely ignite his hockey team. I asked Dube after the game about the impact that goal had on the team. “I think you would have felt like the game could have been a 4 or 5-0 game before that goal, and then when you cut the lead in half it revives everyone and that was what we said at the media time out. And then a big power-play.” That big power-play Dube referenced came with 6:37 to play as the Cats, already with a 5 on 4 advantage caught a break when Drayton Valley got caught with too many men on the ice. It didn’t take the Cats long as Ty Mosimann cashed on the 5 on 3 and all of a sudden it was a tied game. But the Cats weren’t done there as just 3:12 later and with only 3:00 to play the Cats won a big draw in the Thunder zone and it would be a shot from the point off the stick of Gunner Kinniburgh finding the back of the net, and the comeback was complete. The Cats locked things down in the final 2:55 after the Kinniburgh goal and walk out of the Centennial Civic Centre a VERY happy group after the 3-2 victory.
“I was proud of our effort and what we did to come back in the 3rd period. We persevered, and found a way. It was a gutsy effort and proud of how they responded to the 2nd, and the effort throughout this week was pretty good” Dube said following the game. 1-1-1 record against 3 of the top 5 teams in the AJHL North absolutely is a heck of an effort by the Bobcats. And not only a good effort, but the one thing that has become very noticeable with this hockey club as the season has moved along is the resiliency. Early in the season, I don’t believe they come back from a 4-1 deficit in Bonnyville as they did Wednesday night. Early in the season, I don’t believe they give the Spruce Grove Saints the fits that they did on Friday night. And early in the season, I don’t believe they fight back from the 2nd period that they had Saturday night to pull out a victory. They’re really starting to grow as a group.
The next time you have the chance to see that growth will be Wednesday night at the Civic Centre when the number one ranked team in the CJHL, the Sherwood Park Crusaders come to town to take on the Bobcats. The last time the Bobcats took on the number one ranked team in the CJHL was just a little over 3 weeks ago when they defeated the Brooks Bandits by a score of 4-3. Will history repeat itself? Puck drop at the Civic Centre will be 7:30 PM, and of course if you can’t make it down to the arena, Shane Tomayer and myself will have all the action for you on Hockey TV, and on the MixLR app!
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