Hockey season underway for North Central Bulls
The North Central Bulls’ first season in the Northern Alberta Midget ‘AA’ Hockey League got off to a rocky start with a pair of losses last weekend.
On Saturday, the Bulls — comprised of players from Athabasca, Boyle, Plamondon and the surrounding area — were in Morinville where they opened the season against the Sturgeon Mustangs. Despite ultimately losing the game 6-3, the Bulls came to play, according to head coach Calvin Klaczek.
“It was the fastest game I’ve ever coached in. The pace was exceptional,” said the coach, noting that his players had no trouble playing such a high-tempo game.
The game was also closer than the score indicated, with the Mustangs only pulling away in the final five minutes, when they scored two goals.
Lighting the lamp for the Bulls were Dylan Lynde, Nathan Klaczek and Layne Gladue. Cody Lazowski turned away 40 shots in the Bulls net.
Then on Sunday, the Bulls came home to the Athabasca Regional Multiplex where they met the Northeast Panthers.
The Bulls had previously battled the Panthers at a tournament in Wainwright and lost a close 7-6 game despite having a short bench. But that history ultimately didn’t work in the Bulls favor as they came out flat at home and lost 10-1 to the visiting Panthers.
Whether it was fatigue from the previous day or visions of the Thanksgiving dinners waiting at home that caused the poor effort, the coach wasn’t sure.
“We weren’t in it from the first drop of the puck,” said Klaczek. “(Saturday) was nothing but positives and today was the complete opposite.”
The coach went on to note that the team made a number of simple mistakes, like not taking the body and creating unforced turnovers. Undisciplined penalties were also an issue that gave the team headaches.
The lone goal scorer for the Bulls in their second game was Andre Kuznetsov. The coach also lauded Mitchell Lovelace’s efforts in net, as the goaltender turned aside the majority of the whopping 52 shots that came his way. But the result was still a loss.
“They should learn from this that if they don’t come out to play at this level, it’s going to hurt us.”
Team captain Cole Hamilton agreed with his coach’s review of the game.
“We didn’t have our legs and we weren’t skating. We were outworked,” he said.
The coach and captain agree that the best thing for the Bulls to do is to wipe the slate clean and focus on producing a better effort next weekend, when they play host to South Side Athletic Club Don Wheaton from Edmonton on Friday at 8:30 p.m. before heading to Slave Lake to battle the Thunder on Sunday.
“This game is in the books. We have to forget about it and use it as motivation,” said Hamilton.
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