Dec 3-4 Recap
The rematch between the Gibbons Pioneers and the Slave Lake Icedogs on Friday, December 2nd did not disappoint. The teams had just met the weekend previous and the Pioneers came away with a 7-6 shootout win. Both teams came out flying with lots to prove. Gibbon’s defenceman Duncan Gaunt was pushing the pace jumping into the play in the offensive zone early in the game. Gaunt said, “I feel like it’s definitely important for offensive contribution from the defence. It allows the offence to be more rounded and creates more opportunities for the team.” The Pioneers seemed to dominate the play early leading 4-2 after the first period with goals from Kale Williams, Brendan L’Hirondelle, RJ Eaglebear and Kian Bishop. The team really seemed to be connected as nine different Pioneers featured on the scoresheet in the first frame. Historically, the second period has been its best for the Pioneers but this was not the case on Friday as they allowed the Icedogs to score three unanswered in the second and crawl their way back into the game despite Gibbons outshooting Slave Lake 14-11. The third period was a much more even affair and the Pioneers tied it up midway through the third with a goal from Keegan Vansickle. As is the case whenever these two teams meet, tensions started to run high as the Pioneers defended their own against inappropriate language directed at one of their teammates. In the end, Slave Lake star Kaden Cardinal scored a shorthanded goal with 3 mins left to take the rematch game 6-5. A melee at the end of the buzzer resulted in a number of infractions handed out to both teams. After the game Gaunt noted, “Moving forward, the team just needs to play a full sixty minute game with better puck control, because in the end, that’s how teams succeed.” The next meeting between these two teams on December 16th will be sure to be a heated affair.
The following night, the Pioneers suited up against the Northern Alberta Tomahawks missing a few key members of their squad. Notably present however was Braden Kalin. Despite taking a nasty slash early in the game against Slave Lake requiring him to spend most of the evening receiving treatment in the hospital, he showed up Saturday night contributing one goal and one assist against a tough opponent. “I’m here for my team. When they need me, I’m there. I want to be the best version of myself and also want to prove to my teammates that an injury only makes us want to put the past behind us and focus on my dedication to this team. The pain I had yesterday pushed me for the strength I had today.” Despite losing this match up, the Pioneers took away some key positives from the game – scoring three on the second best team in the division, being more disciplined than their opponents and scoring two power play goals. Coach Steve Arsenault was proud of the effort from his team, “Every day we are improving and becoming more structured. The team is starting to gel well and connect. We are seeing flashes of that every weekend. We just need to find more consistency in our game and we will continue to improve.”
Catch the Pioneers at home against the Edson Eagles December 9th at 7:30 pm at Gibbons Arena and away against the Fox Creek Ice Kings December 10th.