The West Central Panthers played their first home game at the NexSource Centre, Saturday night.
The 15AA midget team lost to the Sherwood Park Senators in a close 5-4 game.
The Panthers did not play at their best during the Saturday night game, according to the team’s head coach Lane Moore.
The coach said the team did not play like he knew they could until the third period, by then it was too late.
“That was not their game. Out of the gate they weren’t playing well,” said Moore. “They weren’t playing to their strengths and were skating lazily.”
Generally he would describe the a quick and determined, more often than not using their speed to their advantage.
The speed did come out the latter half of the final frame, where the Panthers were able to out manoeuvre and skate the Senators.
The first 20 minutes of play remained scoreless for both the Panthers and Senators.
The Panthers were the first on the score board in the second period. Kolby McCurrach made scored on the power-play 45 seconds into the second period. McCurrach was assisted Josh Johnston
“They are a great group of kids and they play well together, especially for coming from a bunch of different clubs,” said Moore.
Generally the team play together, as a cohesive unit, according to Moore. The team work started to come through in the final period when the Panthers pulled up their socks.
Already behind 3-1 going into the final frame, the Panthers let one more through before coming together and using the team’s speed to their advantage.
Miles Pallister scored for the Panthers with just less than nine minutes left in the game. He was assisted by teammates Johnston and Easton Moore.
Less than one minute later, Johnston scored off a quick feed from Moore.
With the Panthers behind by only one point, and six minutes left in the game, it was looking like the home team could at the very least tie it up and go into over-time.
At, the five minute point the Senators scored again, making the score 5-3.
Ty Bjarnason with the Panthers shot the puck in for one last goal, off assists from Easton Springinatic and Brandon Letendre before the game was over.
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Despite many valiant attempts and a few close calls in the final minute, the Panthers were unable to get the puck home, and take the win.
“We weren’t shooting with accuracy and we weren’t passing well or enough. The boys just did not come out to play,” said Moore.
The West Central Panthers are made up of 15-year-old players from teams in Sylvan Lake, Olds, Bentley and Lacombe.
Because the team is made up of players from around the central part of the province, home games are spread out in each of the various towns the player’s come from.
“We want to share the love and represent all of our communities,” said Moore.
The Panthers won’t have another home game in the NexSource Centre until Dec. 16.