The Lloydminster Bobcats made a statement to the rest of the AJHL this past week.
The Bobcats beat the Drumheller Dragons 3-1 and battled the South Division leading Okotoks Oilers to a 6-5 loss at the annual AJHL Showcase at Camrose’s Encana Arena last Thursday and Friday.
“I was really happy with our effort,” said Bobcats head coach and general manager Travis Clayton. “A few little bounces here and there, we would have went 2-0 against two really good hockey teams. So, we can take a lot of positives out of that weekend and now we just got to keep building.”
Clayton said the team came together and played a sound hockey game against the Dragons (6-2-1).
He said the defence took the middle away to slow the Dragons approach and neutralize their top-ranked offense.
The Bobcats (2-5) kept the momentum going against the Oilers (7-0) with the forward corps getting rewarded for their hard work in the house with a number of ugly goals.
Clayton said they were moving the puck on the power play, getting shots on goal and driving the net, making for a strong two-for-four finish with the man advantage.
He said their penalty kill didn’t fare as well against the Oilers giving up three goals against, but that total also had a lot to do with their opponent’s ability to get the defence involved and capitalize on their chances.
The Bobcats made a major addition to their roster following the AJHL showcase by acquiring veteran goaltender Pierce Diamond from the Calgary Canucks for future considerations on Tuesday. The 19-year-old began his junior A career in Lloydminster during the 2015-16 season, led the Whitecourt Wolverines to the AJHL final last year, and suited up in five games for the Canucks this season when he posted a 2.66 goals against average and .910 save percentage.
Diamond will be in the Bobcats lineup this weekend when the team takes to the ice against the rival Bonnyville Pontiacs (3-4) and Drayton Valley Thunder (1-6) this Friday and Saturday, respectively, at the Centennial Civic Centre.
“You can’t take Bonnyville lightly,” said Clayton. “We’re going to have to have our A game and be ready to play. Drayton Valley is a team that’s desperate and like we are.”