Bobcats bury the season


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April 12, 2016 12:00 AM

The Lloydminster Bobcats were eliminated on Friday night from the Gas Drive Cup playoffs after losing to the Spruce Grove Saints 4-1 in Game 5. The Bobcats will now wait until the start of the RBC Cup on May 14 before they play again.

The Lloydminster Bobcats season is over.
Not literally, they still have the Royal Bank Cup in May, but for all intents and purposes of moving on and preparing for that national championship tournament, the regular season and playoffs the Bobcats are,  in essence, hitting the reset button and starting again.
This, after Lloydminster was eliminated from the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) Gas Drive Playoffs in Game 5 of the North Final on Friday night in a 4-1 loss to the Spruce Grove Saints.
“The first thing you have to do is bury the season,” said Bobcats coach Gord Thibodeau. “You have to look at your season and bury the playoffs and come with a clean slate and be focused on what’s ahead. We are very proud of the players, an extremely good season for the team. We want them to understand that. But we need to move on from the regular season and playoffs, put that in the rearview mirror and start to set our sights on what we need to do to be prepared for May 14.”
In reflection, it was still one of the best seasons in Lloydminster junior A hockey history. The team’s 44 victories were the most in franchise history, as were the 88 points earned
The Bobcats also reached the North Final or third round of the playoffs for only the third time.
After defeating Drayton Valley and Whitecourt in the first two rounds, Lloydminster ran head on into the two-time defending Gas Drive Cup champion Spruce Grove Saints. After losing the first three games of the series, the hole was dug too deep and the Bobcats were eliminated in five games.
It will be 36 days between games for the Bobcats, who won’t play again until May 14, opening night of the RBC Cup tournament, when they take on the winner of the Western Canada Cup.
That could be the Spruce Grove Saints if they go on to win their third straight AJHL title and the first Western Canada Cup, or it would be the champion from the British Columbia, Saskatchewan or Manitoba Junior Hockey Leagues or the Western Canada Cup host Estevan Bruins.
“You analyze the good and the bad, and that is what we are doing as coaches right now,” said Thibodeau. “We will have some one-on-ones to go over the performance in the playoffs individual ... that will be the final chapter of analyzing the playoffs and then we move forward. It’s like a whole new season. We’ll practice to get ourselves prepared and do our preparation in terms of opponents for the next month also.”
Players will remain in Lloydminster for the rest of the week to participate in the spring camp being held Friday through Sunday. They will then return home for a week before returning for three weeks of practice and preparation for the RBC Cup.

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