The Lakeland Junior B Heat have a lot to be proud of this season. At times, the regular season schedule seemed to come easy to them. Only Sherwood Park and Lloydminster managed to beat them. After winning game one in the best of two on Friday night, the Heat had to avoid coming out flat against Lloydminster in like they did in the regular season, for game two. This is your Cave Inspections Post-Game Report.
Heat flat out of the gate
A lack of energy was evident from warm-ups for the Heat. That carried over into the first period, but didn’t prevent them from opening the scoring just under five minutes in. Justin Hodinsky scored his sixth goal of the playoffs. Austin Dulle responded for the Xtreme; he beat Mason Wild at 14:09 to even the game. In the second half of the first, Jason Bouvier netted back to back goals for the Xtreme putting them ahead 3-1. Mitchell Bibeau, who drew the assist on the opening goal, received a pass from Justin Hodinsky and brought the Junior B Heat within one. the score was 3-2 at the end of the period.
“They’re winning the loose balls that’s a big part. We gotta tighten up on defense. Mason is holding us in there. We’ll keep chipping away that’s for sure.” Justin Hodinsky said in the first period intermission.
Xtreme Goalie does it all
The second period was a land of frustration for the Heat. Goaltender Kyle Boyer of the Xtreme stopped every shot he faced in the early going. Lloydminster netted their fourth goal off the stick of Kody Kappel with 14 minutes left to play in the period. Kappel would beat Wild again with 12:54 on the clock. Logan Blize tucked in Lloyd’s third goal of the period in the late going to put the Xtreme up 6-2. Tanner Barnes finally solved Boyer and gave the Heat life going into the third period. Things were getting heated between the clubs, as the do or die scenario ravved up The low-scoring game was 6-3 headed into intermission.
“I think it’s them. They came out firing and we came out flat… We’ve got a ways to go, and we can’t lose this one…. No one has had too much momentum.” Aaron Goulet explained during the second period intermission.
Heat too far out
Brayden Cooper extended the Lloyd lead three minutes into the third. Mitchell Bibeau scored his second of the night a minute later, and for the moment it seemed the offense was about to explode. Once again though, Kyle Boyer stopped everything else thrown his way. It seemed whatever made its way to the net he had an eye on. The third period saw 11 minutes straight of back to back chances, hard grinding play, and a lack of finish from both clubs. Kody Kappel buried the final two goals for the Xtreme.
They went on to win game two 9-4. The Heat’s slow start seemed to feed the Xtreme energy throughout the game. As Dennis Hodinsky had talked about so many times as just a possibility, the two teams were finally headed to the 10 minute mini game.
The season on the line
The new playoff rules are something unlike any other in sports. Speaking to some Heat player pre-game, they knew it was all over if Lloydminster won game two. After the final buzzer of game two rang, the boys headed out of the arena to grab some air. They had a ten minute break to decide how they were going to keep their season alive. One of the first players back was Cole Kulczycki. He had chances galore in game two, but couldn’t beat Boyer. The answer for him was simple, “All it takes is one.” Five minutes passed of the between games break, and the the Heat returned to the dressing room. Five guys came to the bench for air almost immediately. Assistant Coach Daryl Hodinsky wanted no part in that. He called the boys back to the room for one last energy boost.
A lot of screaming and yelling took place for the next minute. Time was wearing thin, and the mini-game was almost set to begin as the Heat took to the bench. Their season was on the line, and they had ten minutes to save it. Mason Wild returned to the crease after being relieved in the late going of game two.
Game time: do or die
The intensity of game two was multiplied by five even before the opening face-off took place. Donovan Bibeau made his return for the mini game after sitting out game two. The first three minutes of the period was edge of your seat action. Neither goaltender was giving an inch no matter how close the ball came to going in. The Heat scored a huge goal just under three minutes in, but it was waved off. The no-goal seemed to spark the players ever further as seconds later they got one up on the board. Brae Howatt, who had taken a misconduct in game two, scored the opening goal of the mini game, and everyone in the arena save for the Xtreme bench and their fans went off.
The Heat had 6:39 to preserve the lead and advance to provincials. The Xtreme had several good chances, but Mason Wild saved shot after shot, and kept the bench alive. It was as though the feeling was that an even score would result in a loss. Cole Kulczycki had misfired his first shot of the period, but all it took was one more to seal the series. Kulczycki scored with 2:40 seconds left on the clock to pretty much seal the game.
Tense final moments
Blake Smith took a taunting penalty on the Kulczycki goal. That set up an incredible finish. The players on the bench knew all they had to do was hold onto the ball for the rest of the clock to win. Time ticked down as the Heat killed the clock on the penalty kill. The high-powered Lloydminster powerplay couldn’t capitalize on their chance. Smith left the box with forty seconds left until provincials. The excitement level almost boiled over before the clock ran out, but the Heat kept their emotions in check for the few seconds, and held on to clinch a provincials berth.
” We didn’t come out and play our game out of the gate. We played a lot as individuals. Lots of individual hard work, we didn’t have all five working together one hundred percent. It was a lack of teamwork. Mason kept us in the game right to the end, where we could of possibly come back. We also lost Donovan Bibeau, who won an award for most points in the north-east side.” Coach Dennis Hodinsky wrapped up game two.
“We just needed to get fired up. And that’s all my job was right there. get them all around me, and get it done. The message was for them to just play hard. For years our chant when we got the Heat going in Bonnyville, our chant was ‘Turn up the Heat’ and that’s what I had them screaming and yelling in there.” Daryl Hodinsky explained how he helped change the tide going into the mini game.
Heat head to Sherwood Park
Next weekend the Heat will go to war for the final time in Sherwood Park. The provincial tournament will run Friday through Sunday, and feature the finalists from both conferences.