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U15 Bearcats undertake three-game road trip

Lesleigh Campbell | Special to the Fitzhugh

The U15 Jasper Bearcats rode the SunDog bus for their three-game road trip this past weekend. 

Saturday was double-down day in Drayton Valley for the Bearcats, against the Thunder Stars. The first game was at 12:30 p.m., and Jasper came ready to skate after their long bus ride. 

Morgan Thomas got the Bearcats on the board early in the first, but Drayton Valley tied it up soon after. The Jasper Bearcats then exploded, with four consecutive goals, starting with Drew Kovacs, assisted by Carson Campbell. Followed by Morgan Thomas from Carson Miller, and then one minute later Jackson Irwin, assisted by Thomas with an identical play by the duo right after to make the score 5-1 with five minutes left in the period. The Thunder Stars then finally got one more past Brady “Soupy” Campbell, answered by a hat-trick goal from Thomas (thanks to a beauty pass from Kovacs) making the score 6-2 going into the second.

Things got interesting after the intermission when Drayton Valley came back determined to close the gap. Scoring two unanswered goals, success was within their reach, but it was quickly spoiled by another goal from Thomas. The Thunder stars didn’t give up, and got one more before Austin Schmidt set Thomas up for his fifth goal of the game, ending the second period 8-5 for Jasper. 

The third period was scoreless with Soupy shutting down all 17 pucks shot at him, mirrored by the goalie at the other end of the rink. Keeping this an 8-5 win for the Bearcats.

With one win under their belts, the Bearcats faced off against the Thunder Stars again a few hours later. 

The first period got off to a shaky start for Jasper, with Drayton Valley scoring back-to-back goals out of the gate. But the Bearcats took control again around the 12-minute mark when Louis Campeau set Kovacs up to get Jasper on the board. Irwin then scored shortly after that, followed by the tie-breaker by Campbell from Shmidt. 

Kovacs started the second period off with an insurance goal, which was quickly cashed in by the Thunder Stars. With the score now 4-3, goaltender Brady Campbell got his first assist as a Bearcat when he passed the puck to Bode Hofhuis who sent it over to Campbell’s twin brother for his second goal of the game. Campbell then scored his hat-trick goal, followed with a power play goal by Thomas. The Bearcats were on a roll now, and Hofhuis got in on the fun with his own goal, assisted by Casey Peel and Dustin Derksen. Drayton Valley snuck one more past Soupy, but Kovacs answered that with his hat-trick goal, assisted by Irwin, ending this period 9-4.

The Thunder Stars opened up the scoring in the third period, but Thomas answered that with a short-handed goal, followed by a Hatty of his own, assisted by Campeau. It’s not every day that you see a goalie get an assist, and three players on the same team get hat-tricks, but it happened on this day, making the final score of this game 11-5 for Jasper.  

After a long day of travel and hockey, a generous parent bought pizza for the whole team, which they ate on the bus and headed to their hotel for the night. And after spending whatever energy they had left at the hotel pool and waterslide, they all got a good night’s sleep, in preparation for Sunday’s game.

Back on the bus Sunday morning, the Bearcats travelled two more hours northeast of Drayton Valley, to Smoky Lake. For many, if not all of us on the bus, it was our first time to this part of Alberta, and we couldn’t believe the beauty and the vast amount of open country.

Well rested and ready to go, the Jasper Bearcats faced off against the Smoky Lake Stars. Kovacs got the first goal of the game after dangling through several Stars, and then he sent a long pass to Thomas for goal number two. And with Soupy saving everything sent his way, the first period was looking good for Jasper. Then with one minute left in the first, Smoky Lake finally scored, making it 2-1.

The second period was when things started to turn sour for Jasper, as they barely managed to get any shots on the Stars’ net. Soupy did the best he could, but being outshot by double, Smoky Lake managed to get two past him. By the end of the second period, Jasper was down 3-2.

The third period of this game had everyone on the edge of their seats. Campeau assisted Kovacs on the tying goal right out of the gate, answered a minute later by the Stars’ tie breaker. There was then a lot of action in front of the Bearcats net, including Derksen bailing Soupy out by diving in front of the net for a save. That momentum carried forward for Thomas to tie it back up, assisted by Kovacs and Campeau. But the pressure was on, and fans could tell that the Bearcats were starting to look tired. The Stars got two more goals, and then with a minute left in the game, coaches David Miller and Royd Irwin pulled Soupy out of the net to give Jasper the man advantage. They gave it everything they had, but needed two goals to tie it, and instead one of the Smoky Lake players had incredible aim, and iced it right into Jasper’s net. Still, the Bearcats didn’t give up, and right at the end of the game, Jackson Irwin fired one last rocket that found the back of the net as the buzzer sounded. It was a great way to end the game, and the weekend, with a final result of 7-5. 

It was a terrific weekend of hockey, and fun. And I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again especially with his recent passing—to quote the late, great Meatloaf, “Two out of three ain’t bad”. We would like to send a huge Thank You out to SunDog Transportation and Tour Co. and our amazing driver Bob Nelson who went above and beyond, and drove our team all over Alberta safely this past weekend. We appreciate it more than you know.

The U15 Jasper Bearcats have a home game against Hinton this Saturday, Feb. 5 at 12:30 p.m. So, come on down the Jasper Arena and watch some great hockey.

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