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Bantam Bearcats have seen stranger things

Former Jasper Bearcub Nolan Moser, now a member of the Spruce Grove Spartans, touched base with some of his former mountain posse including Jacob Bartziokas, Sebastian Golla, Baden Koss and Kelan Polard when the Spartans visited for a doubleheader last weekend. | Photo supplied

by John Wilmshurst | special to the Fitzhugh

If you were of a mind to binge watch some hockey last weekend, then Jasper was your Casterly Rock. With the PeeWee Bears playing a couple of games, a PeeWee B tournament in town and the NHL All Star game playing on screens around town, there was hours of on ice entertainment. Piling on, the madness, the Bantam Bearcats hosted a pair of rare home games against the Spruce Grove Spartans. Shout out to prodigal son, Nolan Moser, former Jasperite and Initiation Bearcub who is a defenseman on the Spartans. Our first-year Bearcats had fun reconnecting with their old friend.

Saturday’s matchup followed a classic story arc. Slow start to introduce characters, plenty of mid-game action, heroes and villains emerge, surprising plot-twists as chapters wrapped-up and a tension filled resolution. Walter White would have been proud.

Jasper dominated from early on this game with Lucas Oeggerli ruling the faceoff circle, centring Camas “Tony Soprano” D’Antonio and Liam Crozier on his wings. Although this line didn’t rule the scoresheet, they played a strong north-south game and kept the pressure up on the Spartan defense. Enter Aidan Deagle on the blueline who, together with his defensive partner Jacob Bartziokas were playing shut-down hockey for the Bearcats and adding firepower from the point.

The action went down with about two minutes to play in the first as the plot twisted and retwisted. Power forward Baden Koss picked up a defensive zone faceoff win and scampered down the ice to deposit the game’s first goal. One minute, 52 on the clock.

Ten seconds later, same shift and again off the faceoff, Koss repeated his party trick to pick up the game’s second goal. This exposed some frustration on the Spartan team resulting in conflict resolution Game of Thrones style behind the Bearcats net. This sent a few players to the penalty box for extended purgatory. Barely 20 seconds later Owen Kearnan gave Jasper a three-goal lead, burying a Koss rebound and putting a wrap to a tense two minutes. Another day at The Office.

Veronica Lodge, in Riverdale is quoted as saying “You wanted fire? Sorry, my speciality is ice” and that’s what the fans were treated to in the second period with, again, 18 minutes of scoreless hockey followed by a two minute frenzy. You can credit Bearcat goaltender Kelan Polard for the iciness as he was tracking down all rubber being flung his way for the better parts of two periods. But his shutout came apart like a House of Cards 18 minutes into the second when Spruce Grove pounced on a loose puck in front of the net and made Jasper pay. Exactly a minute later though, Jasper forward Sebastian Golla teed up a slap shot from the left circle and recaptured the Bearcats’ three goal lead heading into the third.

The third period was again a defensive stalemate led this time by Dana Angebrandt (who’s name means Stranger Things in German) and her blueline partner, Josh Howes. They turned away all Spartan attacks as if they were hunkered down for hours of swords and sandals TV. With about a minute to play, Spruce Grove drew second blood, but were unable to get any closer than a 4–2 finish. Another mark in the win column for the Jasper Bearcats.

Like all good binge-watchable TV, I’m going to leave you hanging on game two, just so you’ll come back for more. But you’ll have to wait. Is winter coming? Next week the Bearcats become Outlanders again (aka return to Edmonton) for two more exciting episodes. You can read about it here.

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