The Lakeland Heat fought hard all weekend, and found themselves in the 2 p.m. gold medal game on Sunday. Their opponent, the Lethbridge Barracudas, beat them 13-12 in the round robin. The gold medal game was a great game going back and forth until the late going. Ultimately the Barracudas took home the gold medal. This is your Cave Inspections Post-Game Report.
Things were intense off the hop. Both teams came out fired up, and used the energy to push the pace of play. The Barracudas opened the scoring more than halfway done the first period. Cody Firth beat Mason Wild on a hotly contested shot. 40 seconds later, Brae Howatt electrified the other half of the arena with a breakaway goal on a pass from Justin Hodinsky. The Cudas took the lead back on another goal from Cody Firth with 5:58 to go in the period. The Heat would answer back, getting two goals in the late going. Captain Jaedyn Stratychuk tied the game, and Mitchell Bibeau opened the Heat’s first lead of the game. It was 3-2 Lakeland Heat after the first.
The battle intensifies
The second period had more energy than the first. Both teams had had enough of feeling each other out. Both clubs had made the adjustments they needed to, and set out to take big leads. The Heat scored the 4-2 goal off the stick of Donovan Bibeau. Momentum looked to be in the Heat’s favour. Two minutes later the Cudas got a goal from Ethan Heidt. A minute later the Cudas got the tying goal.
Things stayed even at 4-4 headed into the final five minutes. The Cudas opened their first lead since the dying minutes of the first on a goal by Cody Firth. Lakeland got a huge to goal to bring it even from Justin Hodinsky. Dylan Mack restored the Cudas lead with two minutes left. The Heat didn’t say die, and tied the game on a snipe from Ethan Brown. The game was 6-6 headed into the third.
Heat offense stopped
The building was on the edge of their seats for the opening five minutes of the third. The tie was broken as Cole Stroud scored for Lethbridge. Stroud scored again five minutes later. Ethan Heidt would expand the Cudas lead to 9-6. Things looked bleak for the Heat in the dying minutes of the game. The bench didn’t let down on excitement however. The Heat battled to the last few minutes and netted a big goal from Donovan Bibeau. The game was 9-7 with seven possessions left. The Heat found themselves on their heals for the rest of the game. Lehtrbidge scored with 1:14 to go.
The game ended 10-7 after a match deserving of medals being handed out. Despite a three goal loss, the Heat played as good a game as the 13-12 comeback loss on Saturday morning.
“Both teams gave it their all. Both teams were worried about each other. It made us nervous knowing as far as it could be anybody’s game. I heard guys on their bench talking about what we could do. The pressure stayed on all game, and everybody had to play their A-game.” Head Coach Dennis Hodinsky says, “I would like to thank all the fans that came out from Cold Lake, Bonnonnyville area all season. Look at how many fans we had in Sherwood Park.”
The provincial run ended with a silver medal hanging around the necks of the boys from the Lakeland. The gold medal game is the furthest the Heat have made it at Provincials. Captain Jaedyn Stratychuk’s came to end after he was handed his medal.
“We made it where we wanted to. Didn’t expect this team to come to the gold medal game, but I’m proud of the boys. Everyone played their hearts out, and the game could have gone either way.” Jaedyn Stratychuk said post-game.