Despite a somewhat slow start, the Lloydminster Bobcats were able to pick up steam over the course of the exhibition season and finish with four straight wins heading into the beginning of the 2015-16 season.
The ‘Cats broke training camp on August 24th with 40 players still trying to make the opening night team. Their first taste of action came on August 27th and 28th with a home and home set against the Bonnyville Pontiacs, the first meeting between the two sides since last season’s second round playoff matchup. Each night saw a drastically different lineup as many players were moved in and out, and the teams split the opening games with one win each.
The following week, it was another AJHL home-and-home series against the Drumheller Dragons. The ‘Cats travelled to Drumheller on Tuesday, September 1st but fell a couple goals short with the Dragons taking a 3-1 victory. One night later, the Dragons returned to Lloydminster and the game was a different story, with the Bobcats taking a convincing 6-2 win on home ice.
In the third set of home-and-home games, the Bobcats travelled to Wainwright on Friday, September 4th for a neutral site matchup against the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Battlefords North Stars. In the first of the two games, it was all Bobcats with the Border City boys leaving town with a 4-1 victory. The winning streak continued the following night back in Lloydminster, as new goaltender Alex Leclerc (Longueuil, PQ) shutout the Stars for a 3-0 win in his first game with the Bobcats. The following day, the ‘Cats hit the road to Mayerthorpe to close out the exhibition season against the Whitecourt Wolverines, who had racked up five wins and only one loss in their first six preseason games.
It proved to be a tight-checking affair, as the teams skated out of the first period with a 0-0 tie. The Bobcats fell behind in the second frame, allowing two goals in the first ten minutes. However, in the back half of the second period the Bobcats answered back with two goals of their own to tie it up. Each team found the back of the net in the third period, and the game would be decided in overtime as rookie defenceman Nick Quillan was able to beat the goaltender with seconds remaining on the clock for the win.
With the exhibition schedule in the rear-view, the team will be announcing final roster decisions in the coming days ahead of Friday's season opener in Bonnyville. The Pontiacs will return to the Civic Centre on Saturday, September 12th for the Bobcats' home opener.