By Ryan McCracken on November 4, 2016.
Medicine Hat native Michael Binczyk knew how much was at stake entering Thursday night’s Heritage Junior B Hockey League game at the Kinplex.
The 17-year-old Banff Academy Bears goaltender turned aside 31 pucks to lock up his first win of the season, but it came at the expense of the Medicine Hat Cubs.
“It’s massive to get that first one off my shoulders and get two points for the boys,” said Binczyk, who backed the Bears to an 8-5 victory. “Now we’re tied with Medicine Hat. It’s a big deal for us.”
While the Cubs managed to capitalize on Binczyk early, building a 3-2 lead through 20 minutes on goals from Tavin Staub, Mackenzie Fritzler and Rhett Carlson, Banff regrouped at the break and stormed into the middle frame. Nine minutes later, it was 6-3 Bears.
“We just had to reset,” said Binczyk. “I just told everyone to reset and so did the coaches, then we put up five goals in the second and I think we got a lot of confidence from that,” said Binczyk, a former South East Athletic Club Tiger and Medicine Hat Hound who is relishing his time in the Rockies. “You get to kiss the sky every day. It’s just gorgeous out there. You always have motivation to work hard out there because the atmosphere is so nice. And it’s a long season for us, we don’t just play junior B, we play midget prep too.”
Jesse Barsness and Matt Clement added markers for Medicine Hat midway through the third but it did nothing to influence the outcome. As Cubs head coach JD Gaetan phrases it, they underestimated their opponent.
“We went into the game thinking it was an easy win. We took them lightly and you saw the result,” said Gaetan. “We have peaks and valleys. We are a better team and when we work hard it shows because we’re hemming them in their zone, we’re outplaying them. But then we get the momentum taken away because we let off a shift and take it easy on them.”
The Cubs slipped to 1-9-0-4 with the loss, and last place in the HJHL’s Southern Division, while the Bears improved to 2-9-0-2. The teams go back at it tonight at the Kinplex with puck drop scheduled for 8 p.m.
“It’s a must-win for us, for sure. There’s no way we can take them lightly again,” said Gaetan. “We have to go in and outwork them, because when we outwork them we do outplay play them and we can win that game.”