The Lakeland Junior B Heat returned to action for the first time in over two weeks on Friday night. The second round of the RMLL Tier II Junior B Playoffs matched the Heat against the Lloydminster Xtreme. This is your Cave Inspections Post-Game Report.
Hot first period
If you were in the RJ Lalonde Arena, you would know right from the start the game was going to be good. Both teams generated the most noise heard all season during a Lakeland Heat game. The sticks were banging relentlessly as the opening whistle sounded. With play underway, all the boys were fired up for game one. Justin Hodinsky scored off the hop, netting the opening goal just 33 seconds in for the Heat. Ethan Brown opened a two goal lead for the Heat six minutes later.
Then, on his first shot back in over a month, Blake Smith found the back of the net to give the Heat a three goal lead halfway through the first. Josh Gollem, who has always had a hot stick for the Xtreme, tucked one past Mason Wild to cut the lead to 3-1 at 9:27. The Heat responded with an important goal from Tanner Barnes 30 seconds later. The period would finish 4-1 in favour of the Lakeland Heat.
“It feels pretty good [to be here]. First game of the season we made a goal to make it to playoffs, and hopefully provincials. We’re excited, and it’s an exciting game.” Captain Jaedyn Strychuk explained in the Cave Inspections first period intermission report.
Penalty trouble proves costly
The first half of the second period was very much like the first. The Heat dictated the play, and added two goals from Justin Hodinsky, and Mitchell Bibeau. Bibeau’s marker came short-handed. Things looked pretty good for the Heat until Logan Blize scored with 11 minutes to play in the middle frame. A too many men call against the Heat allowed the Xtreme to strike and make it 6-3 with a little under nine minutes to play in the period. Tarras Hodinsky was called for interference at 5:16, and once again the Xtreme capitalized. Brayden Cooper picked up the marker to make it 6-4. The Lakeland Junior B Heat seemed to be taking shots a bit to early through the second period. In the dying minutes, things got back on track. Blake Smith scored his second with 2:17 to play. Eric Coosemans and Justin Hodinsky combined a beautiful passing play to find Manny Ballash in alone. Ballash converted his chance, and the Heat escaped the second up 8-4.
Doesn’t matter the score
On the bench between the second and third period, Coach Dennis Hodinsky reminded the boys to stay calm. His message was anything could happen even though they held a four goal lead. The third seemed to be a back and forth between two clubs who weren’t going to give an inch. The Heat opened the scoring in the third on a goal by Justin Hodinsky. The hat trick goal put the Heat into good standing for the period.
But as Coach had cautioned, Lloyd wasn’t about to roll over. Austin Dulle got the goal back for Lloydminster. Justin Hodinsky found himself another goal in the middle part of the frame to restore a five goal lead, 10-5. Again the Xtreme battled to get within four. Josh Gollem picked up his second of the night at 11:36. Jaedyn Stratychuk, who had several chances in the game converted an absolute beautiful chance, and tried to snatch the game for the Heat once again. Following the Junior B Heat captain’s goal, Lloydminster responded with two straight from Logan Blize. The score was 11-8 with 4:23 to go, when the incredible night that was for Justin Hodisnky hit its pinnacle. Hodinsky scored his fifth goal, and sixth point to put the nail in the coffin.
Half the war is won
“Perfect for us, and that’s the way we like it. We came out nice and strong in the first period. 3 goal lead in the first period, and we stayed ahead of them pretty much the entire game.” Head Coach Dennis Hodinsky said post-game.
The Junior B Heat took game one 12-8. They now lead the best of two 1-0. Both teams return to the R.J. Lalonde Arena at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday to finish the series.