It was an ideal start to the 2017-18 AJHL season for the Lloydminster Bobcats Friday night at the Centennial Civic Centre.
Opening their season at home against the Bonnyville Pontiacs, the Bobcats doubled-up their Viterra North Division rival 4-2.
“I thought the guys played really well,” said Bobcats Assistant Coach Taylor Holt. “Everyone did what we asked of them and there was no quit in them. Every time (Bonnyville) scored we were able to answer right back.”
Mack Gray scored the first goal of the season for Lloydminster with just over four minutes to play in the first period. On their third power-play opportunity of the game, Gray jammed home a rebound to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead after one.
Not even two minutes into the middle frame the Bobcats doubled their lead to 2-0 when Daniel Rybarik recorded his first AJHL goal.
However, Bonnyville would go on to cut the lead in half roughly ten minutes later. Joel Ray found Brayden Goulet in the slot who made no mistake.
The Pontiacs continued to keep the pressure on Lloydminster, however, the momentum swung back into the Bobcats favour late in the second when a couple of returning forwards made their impact felt.
Lloydminster product Kobe Walker chased down a loose puck and then set-up Zach Kaiser and the Orangeville, Ontario native scored his first of the season to give the Bobcats a 3-1 lead with just 14 seconds left in the period.
After PJ Morracco fired home a power-play goal for the Pontiacs early in the third, Zach Webb responded almost instantly for Lloydminster.
Just 23 seconds later, Webb broke in to the Bonnyville zone, stopped, and fired a laser to round out the scoring.
Walker finished the game with a pair of assists for the home team, while Gray, Rylan Nivon, Brady Barclay and Zach Ziegler all had one helper.
Making his first AJHL start in goal Reece Klassen stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced, while returning Bonnyville net minder Sandro Silvestre finished the night making 25 saves on 29 shots.
The Bobcats and Pontiacs will meet again on Saturday, this time in Bonnyville. Catch all of the action live on Real Country 95.9 beginning at 7:15.