Five days before the trade deadline in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, the Lloydminster Bobcats could only muster one goal on 37 shots in 5-1 loss to an honest working Camrose Kodiaks.
The first game on home ice in 2016 saw a collapse in defence, as the Kodiaks scored five straight goals on just 19 shots, including two short handed after breaking up passes between defencemen, which lead to one-on-one scoring chances with goaltender Alex Leclerc.
“Camrose wasn’t that good, I thought we were just that bad,” said Bobcats coach Garry VanHereweghe. “It was embarrassing. We got out worked in every avenue. When you play a game like that against a team that works as hard as they do, you are going to come out with a 5-1 loss.”
It goes without saying that the Bobcats want and need to be a better hockey team, but with days until the Jan. 10 trade deadline, if a deal can’t be made to upgrade talent on the roster, then it will have to come from within. VanHereweghe said the Bobcats aren’t going to consider making drastic changes based on one game, as prior to Tuesday night’s loss Lloydminster was on a five game winning streak.
There is still a need to upgrade on defence, which has been an area of concern for the Bobcats front office for the better part of two months. But VanHereweghe or general manager Gord Thibodeau won’t pull the trigger on a trade just because of one bad outing, as with eyes for league and national championships, it has to fit their long term plans.
“If we are going to make decisions it has got to be decisions that help us long term and not over one game,” said VanHereweghe. “Each and every one of us in that dressing room know how bad we were tonight, the worst game we have played this year by far. But it is about how we respond tomorrow. They are well aware Jan. 10 is a big day and we want to eliminate some of these situations.”
With the Bonnyville Pontiacs schedule to come to Lloydminster on Friday and a meeting with the division leading Spruce Grove Saints on Sunday, it’s a critical time for the Bobcats who currently sit third in the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s North Division, one point behind the Pontatics with four games in hand.
After Tuesday night’s loss, however, changes could be made prior to both those games as the trade deadline comes closer. With a guaranteed trip to the RBC Cup this season in the backs of all the players’ minds, as well as the fresh feeling of the Camrose loss, there is plenty of nervous players in the locker room who hope to still be wearing Bobcat orange and black by the end of the week.
“Especially after this one I think everyone is a little on edge now,” said forward Troy Van Tetering, who scored the lone Bobcats goal against the Kodiaks.
“It’s definitely in the back of everyone’s mind. It’s not our first thought, but as it comes closer it starts to become more of a reality and you are starting to get a little nervous for that.”