The Lakeland Junior B Heat were in tough against the Lethrbidge Barracudas Saturday morning. The teams faced off in provincials last year, and the Cudas beat the Heat handily. This time around things were a lot closer. The Junior B Heat dropped a 13-12 decision in the dying moments of the third period. This is your Cave Inspections Post-Game Report.
Heat get off to slow start
The Heat allowed five straight goals to open the first period. Lethbridge was finishing passes, and controlling the pace of play handily for the first half of the opening frame. Things looked bleak for the Heat before Jaedyn Stratychuk fired up the bench, and the stands with the opening Heat goal. The Barracudas and Heat stayed at 5-1 until the final 1:30 of the first. The play quickened almost out of nowhere. Both teams were fully awake, and the game was just beginning. Nolan DeLauw scored the Cudas sixth goal of the period with 1:25 left. Seconds later, Issac Brown answered back for the Heat. Donovan Bibeau cut the lead to 3 with 37 seconds left in the first. The score was 6-3 headed into the intermission.
Ethan Brown energized the bench once again only 11 seconds in. The marker was a short-handed effort that paid off big time. Lethbridge responded by piling up two goals less than 15 seconds apart. Blake Smith netted a huge goal to cut the lead to three once again with 16:02 left in the middle period. The second period was a struggle between two clubs hungry to go 2-0. The Barracudas netted two more goals in the period, and Blake Smith scored his second of the game for the Heat to close out 40 minutes of play. Lethbridge led 10-6 going into the third period.
Comeback of the year
The Heat faced a four goal deficit going into the third. Donovan Bibeau began a Heat comeback with 11:55 left in the game, with a powerplay tally. Lehtbridge responded getting two more goals from Cole Tait and Dylan Mack, seconds after the Bibeau goal. The Heat now trailed 12-7 with time running out. In a regrouping effort, Coach Dennis Hodinsky called a timeout. Conner Born scored with a minute left in the opening half of the third, and was followed closely behind by another Blake Smith goal. Donovan Bibeau followed Smith’s powerplay tally with his own hat-trick goal with 9:55 left in the game. Lehtbridge was forced to take a timeout. They changed goalies at the same time.
Tyler Wareham, who had replaced Mason Wild in net for the Heat stood on his head the rest of the way. After a couple key saves by Wareham, Donovan Bibeau managed to cut the lead to just one. The score was 12-11 for a solid seven and a half minutes. The game had a feeling it was going to take a bit longer to decide. With just 1:26 up on the clock, the Junior B Heat bench erupted as Issac Brown completed the five goal comeback, and tied the game. Both goalies made remarkable saves as time died out, but Lethbridge managed to put one past Wareham to end the game 13-12.
“The first period we kind of let them come down and get the first one on us. It wasn’t until the last three or four minutes of the period we started putting them behind their goaltender. We turned it on in the third, and had it tied with a minute thirty left to play. It wasn’t until the final thirty seconds they scored to end the game, it was a good, good game.” Coach Dennis Hodinsky summarized post-game.
A good thing to happen
Following the game, the mood in the dressing room was light. The Heat players understood the importance of what they had done. They knew that even though they lost, they couldn’t be counted out for a second. The veterans were satisfied that the rookies had the chance to take in such an incredible game.
9 p.m. game looms large
The boys headed out for a team meal following the defeat. The Heat take on the Olds Mavericks at 9 p.m. at the Strathcona Olympiette Centre. Lakeland sits at 1-1 after two tournament games. The Heat must win to advance to the gold medal game.