The Campbell River Booster Juice Bantam A Tyees travelled to Port Alberni on Saturday to play their final exhibition game against the Port Alberni Bulldogs.
Unfortunately it seems the Tyees collective expended so much energy on the fish ladder to make it up and over The Hump that it took them more than two periods to recuperate.
The two teams came into this game with polar-opposite mindsets. The Tyees were somewhat relaxed and feeling relatively good about themselves after finishing a Thanksgiving weekend tournament with a 2-2 record against quality competition.
The scuttlebutt in the hallways was that they could have finished 3-1 and played in a bronze medal game if they somehow could spike their water with that invaluable intangible item known as confidence.
The Bulldogs entered the matchup with a haggard, hound-dog feeling of weariness as they had not fared so well in their respective Thanksgiving weekend tournament. Like Jimmy The Greek sometimes said, “throw the history out the window and forget about it because it just doesn’t matter in this one.”
Port Alberni demonstrated quite capably to the Tyees that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. They came out running-and-gunning and which seemed to put the run on the Tyees. Jared Super and Drew Price were called up for this game due to injuries, each getting their first taste of bantam rep hockey. Both acquitted themselves well; neither tried to do too much and played within the team’s structure.
The Bulldogs seemed to win the key battles for loose pucks and started to launch bombs on the Tyee net. Ensuing scrambles generated more opportunities and the red light behind goalies Carson Bjorgsford and Dominik Bellefleur was lit.
Brady Kratzmann did crack the goose egg for the Tyees, as he was sent on a breakaway by Lukas Lund and Owen Boyd. Kratzmann used his speed to take the puck in on the Bulldog net and went post-in as he buried his scoring chance.
By the time the Tyees were re-energized, there was less than 10 minutes left in the third period and the score was already 6-1 for the Bulldogs. That’s the way it ended despite a few scrambles near the Bulldog net.
“This wasn’t our best effort of the season and it showed on the scoreboard. We have to start every game with the same sense of urgency that we finished this game,” said head coach Scott Kratzmann. “We are bringing up our affiliates and working them into the line-up. By doing this now, our team is going to be in a better position later in the season. Players have to remain committed to their teammates and move the puck to the open player in a timely manner. Give-and-goes will usually beat solo rushes in the long run. Our coaching staff is helping our players to develop their self-motivation and getting them to raise their personal standards of excellence.
“These young people need to take to heart the sports axiom that how you practice is how you play and the universal truth that no-one can do it for you. This isn’t a sprint; it is a marathon. They are improving physically literally every day so now we need to apply that type of work-out regime to their emotional and mental abilities. The coaches have seen some improvements in those areas and we are very encouraged by it.”
The Booster Juice Bantam A Tyees have been placed in Division 2 for the regular season. There’s no rest for the weary as they have a pair of road games this weekend; Saturday in Oceanside and Sunday back in Port Alberni.