A three goal second period lifted the Bobcats to a 4-1 victory over the Whitecourt Wolverines at home on Wednesday evening, propelling the team into a tie for third place in the North Division with the Wolverines.
The Bobcats were back on home ice after a three game road trip on the weekend to face their North Division rival Whitecourt Wolverines, who were looking to put themselves ahead four points over the Bobcats in the stands. The 15-12-2 fourth place Bobcats were coming off a strong 5-2 victory against the Mustangs in Calgary and were just two points behind third place Whitecourt. Meanwhile the Whitecourt Wolverines had lost their last two games, dropping both in Fort McMurray to the Oil Barons, and sitting with a record of 16-11-2 on the year. The last time these two teams met in October they piled up 11 goals between them, with the Bobcats scoring 4 unanswered goals in the third period to win a thriller 6-5 in overtime. Two affiliated players made their AJHL debuts for Lloydminster tonight as 15 year old defenseman Kale Clague and 17 year old left winger Ryan Symington from the Baker Hughes Midget AAA Bobcats took the ice tonight.
Bobcats would take it to the visiting team early on, resulting in a goal by Braden Crone who would just be getting started. Crone deflected a puck blasted by captain Grant Baker, Taylor Mulder also getting an assist on the play. Bobcats outshot Whitecourt 9-1 in the first period.
Whitecourt would answer in the second period, as Colten Mayer evened things up at the Centennial Civic Centre at 1-1 but it would be all Bobcats the rest of the way. Bobcats would find themselves shorthanded, but it didn’t matter as Tanner Dunkle would collect a puck off the boards and find the net to make it 2-1, with helpers going to Austin McDonald and Grant Baker. With the Bobcats still shorthanded on the same penalty kill, Braden Crone storms down the wing and snipes one home for his second of the night to make it 3-1 Bobcats after two goals in a span of one minute. Braden Crone would complete the hat-trick, scoring this time on the Bobcats, snapping a shot through Mac Engel to make it 4-1 Bobcats after 40 minutes. Cole Porter picked up the first assist on the goal while AP Kale Clague would pick up the second assist. Shots favoured the Bobcats in the period 16-12.
It was a chippy third period, with 8 different players visiting the penalty box in the first 10 minutes of the period, but the Bobcats once again out-shot the Wolverines 10-5 in the period. 4-1 Bobcats is how it would end, with Lloydminster earning their 16th win on the year. Goaltender Devin Green was good when he had to be, setting aside 17 of 18 shots faced to earn his 11th win of the season.
GM/Coach Garry VanHereweghe was proud of his team’s performance, “Special team’s was the difference tonight, from the drop of the puck on we had pretty good control of the game all the way through, they are a dangerous team, all in all it was a very good game, it’s a huge win it gives us a chance to get back into third place, we’re halfway through the season, now we can start off a new second half and hopefully be a lot better.”
The hat-trick hero Braden Crone was happy he and his teammates rose to the occasion, “we showed up to play, big game standings wise, we were able to capitalize on our chances and put them down early.”
Affiliated player Kale Clague picked up a point in his very first AJHL game, “boys treated me well, I adjusted quickly after the first period. Guys are a lot quicker, a lot stronger, but it was a good game to be a part of, big win.”
Bobcats are now tied for third place in the North Division with the Whitecourt Wolverines, both teams sitting at 16-12-2 records on the year. Next up the Bobcats welcome the Drumheller Dragons on Friday night, be sure to come out early as RBC Play Hockey will be hosting a shoot-out before and during the game.