Courtesy of @AndrewBrethauer lloydminstersource.com
The Lloydminster Bobcats completed the comeback in their series against Whitecourt, winning Game 5 in dramatic fashion by a score of 4-2 on Wednesday night.
Austin McDonald had the bookend goals for the Bobcats, opening the scoring in the first period just over five minutes into the period, while in the final 20 minutes, the hard working Bobcat forward would do what he has done so many times this season, scoring a shorthanded goal to put the icing on the cake for Round 1.
“We battled hard and it was a huge character win,” said McDonald after the victory. “I think we deserved it. It feels great.”
Lloydminster had a 2-0 lead after the first period as Tanner Dunkle added the second goal shortly after McDonald's first. It would turn into a 3-0 game in the second when Lukas Biensch tossed a puck on net, and after hitting a Wolverine stick, found its way into the twine.
The Wolverines would get some momentum back in the second, as Matthew Abt would find the back of the net on a shot from the blue line, but McDonald would score the 'Cats fourth of the game to restore the three goal lead.
Colten Mayor would add one more for the Wolverines, sneaking a shot under the pads of Christopher Tai, but some late penalties in the final two minutes would put the Bobcats on a five-on-three power play, and all they had to do was run the clock out to secure a second round playoff berth.
“Getting those goals early can be a good thing or a bad thing for this team and it worked real well,” said Bobcats head coach Garry VanHereweghe. “They are a team that can create so much and obvious taking offensive chances. They were a threat each and every time they were in the zone. But we battled all the way throughout and found a way to adjust through it.”
Christopher Tai made 26 saves for his third win of the post-season. The newest Bobcat goalie was the storyline in Game 1 after making shutting down the Wolverines in a 3-0 victory, but was out for the next two games with the flu. After what he described as not his best performance in Game 4, Tai returned to the crease for Game 5 and backstopped the Bobcats into the next round.
“It's a great feeling,” said Tai. “Throughout the game, just being stable for the guys. First two periods were pretty calm, in the third period there was just a little bit of a shift in momentum and guys started to hold their sticks tighter maybe, but after that, we figured it out after McDonald scored that fourth one.
“With the team in front of me, it wasn't that hard.”
McDonald finished the series scoring three goals and nine points in five games, and has been the 'Cats strongest player on the ice each and every night. In any situation, McDonald was the go to man on the ice, and his shorthanded goal was no surprise, as he had seven in the regular season.
“He finds a way to get involved and do such positive things,” said VanHereweghe on McDonald. “What you see on the ice is only a part of Austin McDonald. What he does in the dressing room and in the community to lead this team is huge.”
“It's just that extra drive,” said McDonald. “Everyone is stepping up to another level. You just got to play with a lot of character and it just comes naturally.”
Lloydminster will have a day off before heading to Fort McMurray to start Round 2.