With temperatures hovering around -30 degrees Friday night in Lloydminster, the hometown Bobcats gave everyone inside the Centennial Civic Centre plenty of reasons to jump around, cheer and stay warm.
Cole Johnson broke a 1-1 deadlock in the third period, and Nick Sanders made 39 saves, as the Bobcats downed the visiting Whitecourt Wolverines 2-1 in their first meeting of the season.
With both teams returning from the Christmas break, it was the Bobcats creating the first surge in the game, generating the first couple of shots.
Then shortly past the midway point of the opening frame, the Cats quickly converted on their first power-play opportunity of the evening.
Just 14 seconds into the man-advantage, Zach Kaiser deflected a Daniel Hilsendager point shot past Wolverine’s goalie Xavier Potvin to get the home team on the board first. Cole Johnson also registered an assist on the goal.
The game remained 1-0 in favour of Lloydminster after the first 20 minutes of play, with Whitecourt leading on the shot clock 13-8.
In the middle period, the Wolverines began to create lots of chances, but were unable to convert. However, with just over four minutes remaining in the second, they finally found a way past Nick Sanders.
Ben Evanish took the puck deep into the Bobcats end and then beat Sanders to the post on a wrap-around and banked the puck into the goal of the skate of the Lloydminster goalie.
Half way through the final period, the game was still tied 1-1, until the Bobcats took control of an offensive zone face-off.
Braydon Jenkins won the draw back to Zach Ziegler, who was making his return to the line-up from injury. Ziegler then quickly found Cole Johnson in the slot, who wired the shot past Potvin to restore the Bobcats advantage.
Despite a few close calls towards the end, the Bobcats managed to survive Whitecourt’s comeback attempts and put the finishing touches on a 2-1 win.
Sanders stopped 39 of the 40 shots he faced in the win, while Potvin stopped 23 of 25 in a losing cause.
The Cats finished the game 1 for 3 on the power-play, and held the Wolverine’s scoreless on six opportunities.
The same two teams will meet again Saturday night, once again at the Civic Centre to finish up their back-to-back to begin the post-Christmas schedule.