With one game standing in the way of the Christmas break, the Lloydminster Bobcats found a way to make it a win as they edged the Calgary Mustangs 5-4.
After the Mustangs took advantage of a pair of opportunities and took a 4-3 lead in the third period, the Bobcats were able to get timely goal scoring from Taylor Allan and Kris Spriggs to lock down the win.
Trailing by a goal, the Bobcats controlled the puck on a man advantage, and Alex Pernitsky blasted a point shot on Mustangs goaltender Ryan Ternes, who made the initial save. However, the rebound kicked out to the side, and Allan found the puck before putting it upstairs for his second goal of the night and his 13th of the season.
Three minutes later, it was Spriggs finding a rebound off of a Christian Lloyd shot and putting it over Ternes to give the Bobcats the final lead of the game. The game-winner was Spriggs’ sixth goal in ten games since coming over to the Bobcats in a trade from the Nipawin Hawks, and his fourth in the past four games.
In a showdown between one of the top teams of the North Division, and the bottom team in the AJHL, it was the underdog Mustangs jumping ahead in the first period as rookie defenceman Nolan Alward popped a rebound over Bobcats goaltender Pierce Diamond for his first career AJHL goal. The lead was short-lived, as the visitors struck back minutes later.
On an odd-man rush into Mustangs territory, Evan Tschumi drove down the left side of the ice with the puck and dished it across to line mate Allan, who put it past Ternes for his first of two on the night. From there, the Bobcats would continue to control the play, but wouldn’t get another goal until the middle frame.
Early in the second period, affiliated player Brady Barclay carried the puck into the offensive zone before dropping it to trailer Zac Giroux, who continued an impressive streak by snapping it past Ternes for his 15th goal of the year. Giroux heads into the holiday break riding a 6-game goal streak, the longest current streak in the AJHL. The Mustangs didn’t back down after falling behind, and would answer back later in the period.
Breaking down the wing, Mustangs forward Taden Rattie broke towards the net and got a backhand on goal after a beautiful toe-drag around the Bobcats defender. Diamond came up with a sprawling save on the initial shot, but David Sheldon swatted in the rebound to tie the game once again.
Before the end of the period, the Bobcats would regain the lead as Christian Lloyd took a feed from Nick Quillan and put a one-timer from the point past Ternes for a power play marker. The game would stay 3-2 into the third period, when the Mustangs were given a pair of opportunities that they took advantage of.
First, Rattie drove in towards the Bobcats goal and tripped over a sprawling Taylor Mulder on the way, and was given a penalty shot on Diamond. Moving in close to deke right to left, the puck rolled on Rattie and Diamond reached out with a poke check. Unfortunately for Diamond, the puck rolled up his stick on the play and got past him to bring the game back to even. 35 seconds later, Vincent Paquette and Colin MacDonald broke in on a 2-on-0, and MacDonald finished the play with a back door tap in to give the Mustangs their first lead since the first period.
Faced with the prospect of losing to a team that just came off of an AJHL-record winless streak, the Bobcats dug in and found a way. On a power play opportunity with eight minutes to play, it was Allan drawing the game even once again before Spriggs sealed the win.
NOTES: Giroux’s 6-game goal streak has come since a switch to centre ice after Troy Van Tetering left to the World Jr. A Challenge…The ‘Cats scored two power play goals in one game for the first time since October 31st against Grand Prairie…Van Tetering flew in to Calgary this morning just in time to dress up with the ‘Cats, after winning gold in Cobourg, Ontario yesterday…Noah Bauld was on a later flight and wasn’t available…Barclay’s assist was his first AJHL point, in his second game with the ‘Cats…Diamond picked up his 8th win of the year, improving to 8-4-0…Eight Bobcats scored at a point-per-game rate or higher this weekend: Allan (4G, 2A), Morgan Messenger (2G, 4A), Giroux (3G, 2A), Lloyd (1G, 4A), Tschumi (1G, 3A), Kevin Darrar (0G, 4A), Spriggs (3G, 0A), and Taylor Mulder (0G, 3A).
The Bobcats first game after the break is Saturday, January 2nd in Grande Prairie. The next home game is on Tuesday, January 5th when the Camrose Kodiaks come to the Civic Centre.