Linden Springer doesn’t want too many games to go like Friday night’s season opener.
Except perhaps maybe his two-goal performance and, of course, a Lloydminster victory. But as far as coming from behind to win their first home opener in four years, the Bobcats captain said he would be just fine if things went a little easier through the remaining 59-game schedule.
Both of Springer’s goals came at a time when Lloydminster was looking to even the game on the scoreboard. After Sherwood Park took a 1-0 lead in the first period off a Tyler Maltby goal, Springer found the back of the net in the second period off a blistering slap shot that ended up past the goal line.
Sherwood Park would respond with two of their own, as Liam Gregor and Tanner Laderoute put the Crusaders up by a pair midway through the second period. Springer’s second and, so far, largest goal of the season, came with 22 seconds remaining in the third. After Brett Everson brought the game to within one on the power play in the second period, neither team could find the back of the net until late in the third. With a pulled goalie while short handed, Springer jammed a loose puck past Tommy Nixon to send the game into extra minutes.
Overtime solved nothing, so a shootout was needed. Devin Green stopped both shots he faced, while Lukas Biensch scored on his first shot and Troy Van Tetering iced it with a second shoot out goal to give the Bobcats a 3-2 victory.
“To win it in that fashion is exciting, but I don’t know if I can handle 60 of those,” said Springer. “It feels good to win the first one.”
In front of their own crowd, the Lloydminster Bobcats presented their new roster for the first time. With a heavy set of new faces, Friday night’s victory was not without its lapses in play over 60 minutes. The Bobcats struggled early on with puck possession and passing while Sherwood Park looked fine tuned, according to Bobcats head coach Garry VanHereweghe.
He called the mistakes more mental then anything else. And despite mistakes early on in the opening periods, Lloydminster got the performance they needed out of their young players to secure two points early on. It may be a bit early to start counting points towards positioning for the playoffs, but VanHereweghe isn’t about to start letting points slip in the early part of the season, forcing the Bobcats to recover them in the second half when the AJHL has their feet under them.
“It’s two points we need,” said VanHereweghe. “It’s only Game 1, but these are the types of games you can’t afford points to get away on you and try and recover at the end of the year.”
Along with Springer’s two goals, veteran Eric Therrien had two assists and goalie Devin Green played strong through 65 minutes, stopping 18 shots of the 21 he faced. VanHereweghe called his performance critical the success the Bobcats had Friday night, giving them a chance to win both during regular play and the shootout.
For the new players coming in, Brett Everson got his first junior A goal out of the way quickly with his second period power-play goal. The 18-year-old native from Milton, Ont. played on the first line with Biensch and Chris Seto and felt the newer players did well in their first showing as Lloydminster Bobcats.
“It’s nice to get the first one,” said Everson. “We got a good group of guys so nice to get the first win too and be a part of that.”
For now the Bobcats will be satisfied with the two points they earned the hard way. But VanHereweghe made it clear in the dressing room after the game that the team was fortunate to get two points off a competitive and skilled Crusaders team and that heading forward they will need to work harder to secure the victory.
““We’ll take the two points and certainly character was one of the reasons we got them,” said VanHereweghe. “But we can’t sit back and dwell on that we deserve any points really in this game. We are fortunate to get two points and we got to know the next two points are going to be harder to get and we’ll have to be better to get them.”
Lloydminster’s next challenge comes Wednesday night as they play the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, a team that knocked the Bobcats out of the playoffs last season in seven games. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.