The Lloydminster Bandits are in the midst of one of the busiest times in their season. They just finished a three-game set over last weekend, and starting tomorrow night, the Bandits kick off another three-game swing, hosting two at home with a trip to St. Paul in the middle.
It’s a tough spot to be in for the junior B team, who currently sit in fifth place in the North Eastern Alberta Junior B Hockey League and are trying to stay in their current position, despite some growing competition behind them.
Home ice advantage might be out of their grasp, but Vegreville trails the Bandits by just three points, with Frog Lake and Onion Lake not too much further behind.
“We are pretty confident we can at least secure fifth place,” said Bandits head coach Adam Andrew. “I don’t think we will take any more back steps in the standings, but right now it’s about the details in the game leading into the playoffs.”
Lloydminster opened the three game weekend with a 4-0 victory over Vermilion on Friday night. But a 7-4 loss to St. Paul and a 4-2 loss to Cold Lake, both on home ice, was four points the Bandits didn’t want to see given up. They look at it as a missed opportunity to make up some ground on the four teams in front of them.
Anthony Regnier had a hat trick in Friday night’s victory for a four point night, while Saturday he added another goal and two points in the loss. He finished his strong weekend on Sunday with both Bandits goals in the 4-2 loss to Cold Lake.
Prior to the three-game streak, Lloydminster had won three of their last four games, losing to Killam to start 2015 in come-from-behind fashion. It means in the new year, the Bandits have dropped three of four, and with only 10 games remaining, every point is becoming critical to earn.
“We had an opportunity to gain some ground and climb the standings,” said Andrew. “We lost another crucial (four) points.”
This weekend, the Bandits are home to Onion Lake on Friday and Vegreville on Sunday, and will head to St. Paul on Saturday. Lloydminster had the opportunity to beat St. Paul last weekend, but undisciplined played, mixed with a lack of structure cost them in the 7-4 loss. It’s something Andrew said he wants to get through to the team about before playoffs.
And considering two of their three opponents this weekend are within five points of their current position, it needs to happen this weekend, or the Bandits could be fighting to regain their fifth-place position.
“Right now we can’t even make a five-foot pass tape to tape,” said Andrew. “It’s really getting down to basics and playing as a group and being focused out there.”