Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com
Grant Baker gave Lloydminster Bobcat fans a reason to look forward to next year on Saturday night at the Civic Centre.
The Bobcats captain picked up an assist and scored two third-period goals, as the Bobcats picked up a 6-2 win over the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
The three-point effort gives the defenceman 11 points in his last six games. With 37 points this season, he has surpassed last year’s totals by 19.
“I guess you could call it luck a bit,” said the humbled Baker of his recent surge in offence.
“I don’t really know, I’m just kind of scoring, blacking out out there,” he said with a laugh.
The game was also something of a statement game by B.C, native Tanner Clarkson, who gave the Bobcats a two-goal cushion just over 12 minutes into the game with a pair of goals, including one shorthanded tally.
Clarkson, a midseason acquisition, came to Lloydminster from the Langley Rivermen of the BCHL where he had just one goal in eight games. Since getting off to a slow start with the Bobcats, he has emerged as a reliable offensive threat, recording 10 points in his last 10 games.
“Today was his coming out party,” said interim head coach Kyle Tapp. “That kid could play college or pro if he competes, but there’s a reason why he’s been dealt all over, he’s pretty soft at times, and tonight he wasn’t and got rewarded.”
Jackson Dudley scored for the Pontiacs with just 55 seconds to go in the first, lifting a backhander in tight over the outstretched arm of Devin Green, who made 30 saves in the win.
The ‘Cats were outshot 12-7 in the second period, but Green made several key saves to hold on to the one-goal advantage.
It was in the third, where despite getting just six shots, the Bobcats pulled away with four goals – two from Baker, and a goal apiece for Robin Carlson and Kelvin Walz.
The team capitalized on a number of Pontiac mistakes in the third in what was a reversal of roles for the ‘Cats, who had become prone to letting one or two mistakes cost them a game.
“For a good time here we’ve had 10 guys really committed and carrying the team and about five, six, seven guys that sit on the outside, and I won’t mention any names, but they absolutely stepped it up in the third. So finally we were able to roll some lines and create some turnovers,” said Tapp.
Carlson opened the third period goal flurry for the Bobcats just seconds after Walz had a goal called back due to the net being dislodged.
The Pontiacs would get right back in the game with a goal just 51 seconds later, but then it seemed that everything started going in for the ‘Cats.
Baker’s wrist shot from the hash marks at the 5:27 mark of the third period restored the two-goal lead, Walz tapped in a shorthanded marker and Baker added the exclamation mark with under three minutes to play.
“We just came into the second (intermission) and we said we have a period to show what we can do in this league. Guys have to prove themselves for next year and this was a good test and the guys went out there and did what they had to do,” said Baker.
“The fans have been with us all year and we wanted to definitely give them something to cheer about.”
The Bobcats will play their final game of the season tonight at home against the Spruce Grove Saints. Former Bobcats captain Casey Knight, who was traded away at the AJHL trading deadline, remains sidelined for the Saints and won’t be in the lineup.