First contact for Jasper Bearcats
The Jasper Bantam Bearcats had their first game on the road in Hinton last Friday evening, in front of a supportive, but anxious crowd of family and friends.
Bantam hockey, thanks to a rule change at the beginning of last year, is the first opportunity minor hockey players have with body contact, so there was a bit of tension in the air as the Jasper skaters took to the ice. That said, this was not the first encounter with body contact for any of these players.
Stay with me.
Brenden Auger and Crimson Debrowka are the only returning Bantam players on this team. Debrowka is playing her third year at this level, generously offering her considerable talents as an overage player to this numerically challenged group.
Players like Kolby Kongsrud and Bennett Paltzat are also first-year Midget-age players, but as Paltzat hasn’t played in two years this is his first taste of Bantam hockey. Kongsrud skipped last year, so this is his second Bantam season, but its taken three years to get here.
The rest of the team have just graduated from PeeWee, but two years ago, when they were in their first year of PeeWee, contact was allowed at their level. So they are well acquainted with the boards, although the memory is a bit distant.
Although rust was evident in their first game against Hinton last Friday, Jasper struck first as Rhys Malcolm planted a nifty wrist shot from the slot that eluded the Hinton netminder blocker side. Then some oxidized play in their own end had Jasper down by one at the end of the first period.
Early in the second, the Bearcats went down by two, as Jasper netminder Severin Golla failed to corral a bouncing point shot.
Despite Hinton getting into some penalty trouble in the middle frame, Jasper couldn’t capitalize until early in the third, with Malcolm’s second of the game. But then the Bearcats got into their own penalty trouble, including one to goaltender Golla (his first ever) for taking out a Hinton player cruising through the blue paint. Hinton took full advantage, increasing its lead by four to 6–2 before Kongsrud tipped in a Drew Tank blast from the point, to pull Jasper back within three.
An end-of-game push by Jasper didn’t result in any more scoring however, and the game would end 6–3 in favour of Hinton.
First game, first goal, first penalties, first contact for this year’s edition of the Jasper Bantam Bearcats, and also unfortunately, first loss.
This is a talented bunch though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s another season first after their next game, this Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Jasper Arena.
See you at the rink.
Special to the Fitzhugh