HOME GAME 1 RECAP: SAINTS DEFEAT BOBCATS 5-2 IN HOME OPENER
BY ADAM KULAK
Nothing better then a win to start off the season. After a little bit of a shaky first, the Spruce Grove Saints had a huge second and third and road to a 5-2 victory over the Lloydminster Bobcats on opening night. An emotional pre-game ceremony as Former Humboldt Broncos and Spruce Grove Saints Parker Tobin and Conner Lukan were honoured as their family members came out to drop the Ceremonial first puck. The Saints also unveiled their 2017-18 AJHL championship banner as well as they presented last years players with their championship rings.
The first 5 minutes, the Saints were just trying to get their legs under them. Both teams made some errors which was expected on opening night but once the Saints settled in they started to play their game. The Saints did a good job of creating turnovers in the neutral zone and getting into the Bobcats end with control. As the period went on and as Lloydminster took the lead twice, they started to take it to the Saints at certain points in the later half of the period. Drew Warkentine got the Bobcats on the board 5 minutes in with a wrister from the top of the dots through traffic. Shortly after Alex Dalton got the Saints on the board with his 1st of the season off a deflection from TJ Lloyd’s shot. At 8:34 Zach Kaiser gave the Bobcats back the lead off a backdoor feed from Tucker Scantlebury. The Bobcats did a good job of getting in shot lanes and really limiting the Saints secondary opportunities in the first period. The Saints would eventually break through as Cory Babichuk would fire a wrister from the slot with 1:12 left in the period to tie it back up heading into the second period.
The Saints came out strong in the second. They were getting more shots through and getting more high danger chances and secondary chances in front of the net. Kieran Ruscheinski would get the first Saints penalty going off for interference. Fortunately, it turns out that’s what the Saints needed to get some offense going. 25 seconds after the penalty, Tanner Hickey scored off a shorthanded rush assisted by Dylan Bourlai to give the Saints the lead. Just as the penalty kill was expiring Jordan Biro cut to the net off a feed from Logan Ganie and put the Saints up by two off a terrific individual effort. The Saints would control most of the second getting the better of the chances and forcing the Bobcats to play in their own end. They would head in the locker room outshooting the Bobcats 15-8 in the second frame.
Being down by two going into the third period, the Bobcats came out strong and peppered the Saints early, but Davis was sharp all night and was able to hold the fort. The Saints would bend a little in the third, but they didn’t break. They were able to hold off the early third period storm and were able to get a lot of chances in the second half of the period. Carson Franklin of the Bobcats received a two-minute minor and a game misconduct for his hit to the head on Saints forward Seth Fyten which basically put the game out of reach for Lloydminster. The Saints couldn’t get much going on the powerplay, but they were strong at 5v5 tonight. Dylan Bourlai got the empty netter with a minute left to get the Saints the 5-2 win here at Grant Fuhr Arena.
“I thought it was really good for our first game”, Saints forward Dylan Bourlai said after the game. “We’re just getting into systems and stuff so once we learn it and get the pace going good we should be able to take it to some teams”. Saints captain TJ Lloyd also spoke after the game talking about the Saints goals including a beauty by Jordan Biro. “Oh ya, Biro’s really slick out there and that was a phenomenal goal, there was a bunch of good goals out there and that came from practice we’ve been working on all that kind of stuff, the guys are really starting to find their groove here and I think we’ll just continuously get better as the season goes on”.
The Saints are back in action tomorrow night as they visit the Bobcats in Lloydminster and they are back home Wednesday night as they will welcome the Camrose Kodiaks.
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