Lions drop final game of regular season
The St. Paul Lions finally experienced defeat, with a 16-8 loss in Cold Lake to the Royals in the last game of the regular season.
“Everybody played really well. We’ve been really sick and missing a lot of key guys, but everybody stepped it up,” said Lions offensive tackle Zac Smith, adding that the team is now looking towards the playoffs. “For the post-season, we have to get a new attitude and a new mentality. It’s do or die.”
Sickness made its way back into the Lions’ dressing room, and several starting players were not able to compete, including quarterback Brenden McKay, who came down with pneumonia.
“I’ve coached 17 years; I’ve never seen it this bad,” Lions’ coach Todd Tanasichuk said of the illnesses. “We’re missing guys every game.”
Snow played a big role in the game as players had trouble finding traction on the gridiron and the ball popped loose on numerous occasions, making for a low scoring game that was up for grabs until the final seconds.
Tanasichuk said the weather had its influence on the game, for instance, on players like Jason Jubinville. “He’s a shifty guy, he’s got to be able to juke and jive and that’s hard for him when the footing is like it was. But hey, that’s football, that’s Canadian football.”
Jubinville finished the 2012 regular season with 22 touchdowns and 1,552 rushing yards, shattering numerous Lions’ team records in the process.
St. Paul conceded three points in the opening quarter on a safety and a rouge, putting the Lions behind their competitors for the first time this season.
Jubinville quickly answered with a 65-yard touchdown run and Dominic Dion, who stepped into the quarterback position for the absent McKay, connected with Dylon Machura to complete the two-point conversion and give the Lions an 8-3 lead.
It did not take long for Cold Lake to answer back, however. The Royals notched a touchdown but failed to complete the two-point conversion, giving them a narrow 8-9 lead over the Lions heading into halftime.
The snow continued to fall and the Lions were stymied in the second half. Cold Lake put up another touchdown and converted the extra point to give them an eight point lead that they would not give up.
“It was hard; we had turnovers and we fumbled the ball. It was hard to throw out there so we were limited in our game but I think we did pretty good still,” Dion said.
The Lions’ 6-1 regular season record has earned the team a bye in the quarterfinal round and guaranteed home field advantage for the playoffs. The bye will give the Lions a much-needed week of rest while they await the winner of the quarterfinal game between the Lloydminster Holy Rosary Raiders and the Bonnyville Voyageurs.
“Hopefully St. Paul will come out and support us big time and be super loud and get our boys jacked up,” Tanasichuk said. “It’s what we’ve earned and now we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
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