In the their first matchup of the season, the Edson Warriors have defeated the Lacombe Rockets.
In their last game of 2013, the Lacombe Bantam AA Rockets fought a tough match against the Edson Warriors but ended up losing the game 7-2.
Coach Sheldon Klessens said that Lacombe is a fantastic team when they play all 60 minutes of hockey.
But, when the Rockets stop giving their all every shift, as was the case in this game, things tend to go downhill.
“We took a couple shifts off, they scored a goal and it kind of just runs like the domino effect,” said Klessens.
“We have to learn to forget about that goal and just get it back.”
It was clear at the beginning of the game that Edson and Lacombe were fairly well matched.
Both teams kept pace with each other reasonably well and each scored once in the first to leave it tied 1-1 going into the second.
In the second period though, the Rockets slowly lost control of the game. Edson out-skated and outpassed Lacombe and generally dominated the period, scoring four goals to the Rockets one and ending the period 5-2.
Klessens said it was sometime during the second period that the Rockets “Took a few shifts off,” allowing Edson to get a few goals up and gain momentum as well as shaking the Rockets’ morale.
“We stopped skating and stopped our physical play,” said Klessens.
“In the first period we came out extremely physical and the second period, not so much.”
Klessens said second period really had the Lacombe players feeling down on themselves. At the intermission, Klessens reminded his players that a few goals against, or even a loss, is not the end of the world.
His pep talk seemed to work.
After the second intermission, Lacombe tightened up their defense and goalie Jordan Gill played an outstanding third period.
However, Edson still managed two more goals, with one right before the buzzer to end the game 7-2 in favour of the Warriors.
Speed was certainly a factor in the game.
While the Rockets are a fast team, Edson was ultimately faster. With the lack of physical play, Lacombe was unable to counter Edson’s speed.
“(Edson has) some good, strong, fast forwards and they’re tough to keep up with,” said Klessens. “If you give them any room to skate, they are going to beat you.”
Physical play is something Klessens said the Rockets really have to work on.
He added that the team has many players who are small in size and can’t throw their body around as easily as some of their opponents.
Bantam is an age group where there is often great variance in the size of players. As such, intimidation can be a factor for many of Lacombe’s players when going up against larger opponents, said Klessens.
Penalties, something he had previously said that the Rockets needed to work on, were not a problem in the game against Edson.
In fact, a strong penalty kill prevented the Warriors from scoring at all on the power play.
On the other hand, Lacombe also failed to capitalize on its own power plays by scoring.
Despite the unfavourable outcome of the game against Edson, Klessens said he is happy with Lacombe’s position in the league.
He said they are currently ranked fourth in the nine team league.
Lacombe Bantam AA Rockets return to the ice tonight for their first game of the year after the holiday break.
Game time is 7:15 p.m. at Barnett Arenas #1.