Oct. 1 was a monumental day for Airdrie as the CFR Chemical Bisons midget hockey team returned to the city after spending the past 24 seasons in Strathmore.
Although the homecoming brought a new buzz to the city, the visiting Calgary Buffaloes culled the excitement, driving the Bisons to a 2-0 loss at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.
“It was an exciting day for the city of Airdrie, having this team here,” said head coach Dan Gendur. “The kids want to work hard. (Success) will come, it might take a little bit of time, but the willingness is there and that’s what’s most important.”
Since it was announced in the spring the Bisons’ draw zone would be split in two, many questions around the identity of the team and how it would perform remained unanswered.
With a relatively young roster, including 15 to 17 year olds, it was expected this season would be an experience-gaining one for the team.
But with strong spurts in the season-opening game Sept. 30 against the Calgary Royals, and holding the Buffaloes to two goals the next day, Gendur said he’s seen moments of strength for his team.
“We’ve played well in stretches, but we’re a team that has to play 60 minutes every night,” he said. “As of right now, we play in spurts – one good period then one mediocre period. We can’t do that as a team.”
Although the Bisons were able to keep the Buffaloes offence in check, the team was under fire for a majority of the game, with most of the game being played in its own zone.
Bisons’ netminder Steven Bacovsky stepped up in a big way, turning away 24 of the 25 shots he faced. However, there was only so much Bacovsky could do as the team failed to find the back of the net.
“Bacovsky played really well and kept us in the game,” Gendur said. “You can’t expect that every time (our goalies) are out. It’s about the other 18 guys in front of him to help him out and at points today we didn’t have that.”
The Bisons came into the game looking to establish its physical presence against the Buffaloes and, although the team was throwing its body around, Gendur said he would have liked to see more throughout the game.
“We need to create turnover opportunities for us,” he said. “We did it at times today but were a little hesitant at other times.”
Gendur said he wants to see the team get off of its slide sooner rather than later, as the team has yet to register a win in pre-season or the regular season.
“Our confidence is low right now,” Gendur said. “Somebody is going to have to grab the bull by the horns here and turn this thing around. It’s not a long season, we’ve got to turn this around right now.”
The Bisons continues its return season with a pair of home games Oct. 7, taking on the South Side Athletic Club Boston Pizza Athletics at 7 p.m., followed by a 4:15 p.m. matchup against the Calgary Flames Oct. 8. Both games will be played at Ron Ebbesen Arena.