Image: Terix-Fischer-Kobbes, green, tries to get to the front of the net but is swarmed by the Lakeland Heat, purple.
The Lloyd Xtreme have the Lakeland Heat’s number.
They gave the Heat their only regular season loss a month ago, and upset the number one seed at home this weekend in the semi-finals by scores of 11-9 and 11-10.
After a 15-1-1 regular season, the Lakeland Heat’s hopes of going to provincials are dashed.
Both games were close, fiery, skilled, entertaining. There were goals, huge hits, dangerous ones too, and big saves.
None bigger perhaps than when tied 9-9 in Game 2, Justin Hodinsky created a turnover and was all alone in front of the net. He faked, hesistated, and was stopped by Kyle Boyer. The ball was quickly flipped up the floor, and the Xtreme’s Logan Blize potted his fifth goal of the game. If reversed, the Heat may have held on to win and force a ten minute mini-game.
“We had such a great season. We have such a great group of kids. It’s a heartbreaker. The boys were hoping to go a little further. We can make excuses like we had a three week off break, which doesn’t help, and we had a couple injuries and blah blah blah. But you know what – hats off to the Xtreme. They played a helluva game. They worked really hard.”
The Heat were short a few players who add to their depth. Brae Howatt injured his foot during the bye. Aaron Goulet was kicked out of Game 1 after launching an Xtreme player into the boards from behind. Donovan Bibeau appeared hobbled with a knee issue too playing fewer penalty kill minutes, the place he can be so dangerous.
What the officials were prepared to allow had a significant impact in games where behind the play shenanigans are the norm. There were 67 combined penalty minutes in Game 2, and plenty more could’ve been found.
The start of the third periods helped Lloydminster too. In Game 1, they were tied 5-5 after forty minutes. The Xtreme had more jump and fired three unanswered goals before Hodinsky called a timeout. Within six minutes of the third period in Game 2, the Xtreme equalized the game after starting the frame down two goals.
These jumps proved crucial in games that swung back and forth, and looked at times like the strongest momentum swing would decide the winner.
Five Heat players played their final games in Junior B, a lacrosse journey which may have started 15 years ago. Captain Donovan Bibeau, Justin Hodinsky, Taylor Anshelm, Blake Smith, and Cole Kulczycki all donned purple for the last time.
“It’s sad to see them not go to the finals again. We’ve had a really good run with our team. We’ve been to the finals how many times. We’ve got two north championships. We’ve been to the final game of provincials last year, so we’ve had a great club. It’s sad for those guys. I’m going to miss them. Lots of depth. Guys like Donovan Bibeau and Justin Hodinsky they played their hearts out. Since midget they’ve been playing junior B lacrosse, so it’s sad to see it end.”