Fountain Tire Bobcats centre Jayden Plamondon gets ready to deke around a MLAC defenceman. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
Sometimes you can’t measure a team’s success by the amount of ticks in its win and loss columns.
The Lloydminster Fountain Tire bantam AAA Bobcats wrapped up their 2017-18 season with a 7-4 win against the Edmonton MLAC at the Centennial Civic Centre on Sunday.
The Bobcats (12-20-4) finished just shy of a playoff berth, but the gains these boys made as individuals and as a team can’t be discounted.
Curtis Johnson, head coach of the Bobcats, said they’ve moved from getting blown out at the beginning of the year to playing shift-for-shift with the top clubs in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League by its end.
He said they showcased that in the second last weekend of the season when they held their own on the road against the top-ranked Airdrie Xtreme (25-5-6).
“We’ve proved as a group and individuals that we belong in this league,” said Johnson. “I’m proud of every single one of those boys in there for how they kept to it. They stuck to the team goal.”
The MLAC (4-30-2) took advantage of a loose Bobcats squad 13 seconds into the first period on a Cole Chauvette seeing-eye point shot that snuck past Jari Kykkanen.
The Bobcats responded shortly thereafter with centre Ryan Nelson tying the contest at the 7:36 mark before Max Mills and Edison Weeks scored in the final 10 minutes of the frame to give the home side a 3-1 lead.
Bobcats leading scorer Matthew Swanson got into the action about eight minutes into the second period by popping a Jagger Firkus rebound past MLAC netminder Justen Maric.
Nelson notched his second of the contest a few minutes later to make the score 5-1, but the real celebration began at the 17:41 mark when Bobcats defenceman Elijah Lopez scored his first of the campaign.
“I’m not sure how it went in,” said Lopez, who jumped into the air and screamed in celebration upon the referee’s signal of a good goal. “I shot it from the blue line. It just went in.”
Weeks increased the lead to 7-1 six-and-a-half minutes into the third period. The MLAC got three back on two markers by Enrique Fontes, and a single courtesy of Cameron Rimstad late.
“This was really good,” said Lopez. “It’s our last game of the season, so it was good to finish it off with a win.”
Johnson said every team’s goal is to make the playoffs, but the fact that they fell short shouldn’t be considered as the sole measure about whether the season was good or bad.
He said they had the youngest team in the league this year and the kids made strides, so that also has to be taken into account.
“Wins and losses is one statistic, especially at this young age,” said Johnson. “But, I think individually and (our) skills as a team got better, so it was a success that way.”