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‘Cats conquer Thunder

Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com

It was a total team effort on Saturday night for the Lloydminster Bobcats as they snapped a six-game losing streak, beating the Drayton Valley Thunder 3-2.
Though the score would indicate the game was close, that was far from the case as the Bobcats came out with great energy from the opening puck drop and played all over the Thunder, outshooting them 34-20.
“Our guys brought it, every guy,” said Bobcats head coach Ryan Parent after the win.
“I don’t think there was one guy who didn’t bring it, from our fourth line to our first line.
“It was a man-to-man effort, we didn’t give that team a sniff tonight, and they earned the win.”
The recently-created line of Jason Wark, Justin Lund and Dustin Lebrun got the offence going early once again, as Lund picked up a rebound in the slot and fired it past the outstretched Thunder goaltender. It was just his second goal of the year, but his third point in two games.
Lebrun would do all the work himself later in the period, circling from behind the net and getting his own rebound, roofing it just under the bar, giving the Bobcats a two-goal lead after the first period.
“They’re clicking together, they work hard together, and they execute,” said Parent of the success the line has been having in recent games.
“I think size is a factor there, Wark and Lund, they provide size there, and I think Lebrun’s kind of hit his stride, he’s a very positive guy, leader in our room, he’s a pickup in the offseason that is every coach’s dream to have,” he added.
One player who has been appreciative of the Lebrun line is goaltender Chase Martin, who seemingly had nothing to worry about when that line was on the ice.
“I think they’ve been our best line the last couple of games, ever since (Parent) put them together, they’ve been just awesome,” Martin said. ”They seem to control the play whenever they’re out there, I don’t ever see them in my end, which is nice.”
The first period, like the rest of the game, wasn’t without its emotion and physical play. Two Drayton Valley players were tossed from the game for checking from behind and the two teams engaged in plenty of after-the-whistle activity.
“We’re a physical, gritty, tenacious team, and that’s how we have to win our hockey games, we don’t win it on fancy play, we win it on gut check wins,” Parent said.
Despite the fact that the ‘Cats controlled the game in all facets, just over five minutes into the second period they were playing in a tie game. Eric Sieben scored his ninth of the year for the Thunder, while former QMJHLer Frederic Tanguay tapped in a power-play goal off a scramble in the crease which sent ‘Cats goaltender Martin into his own net.
Rather than hang their heads, the Bobcats continued to control the play. The latter half of the second period was spent almost entirely in the Thunder end of the ice, and the hard work paid off for the ‘Cats with just under three minutes to go in the frame as Nolan Yaremchuk fired home his sixth of the year, the eventual game-winner.
“I thought we found a way to win, we got pucks out … we didn’t dig our own grave, we found a way to win, (and) not just hand it over,” said Martin, who wasn’t quite used to facing 20 shots or less.
Parent said that sticking to the team’s system was crucial, and the fact his team didn’t panic after giving up the lead is a sign of maturity.
“What got us two goals up was following the process, following our team system, waiting for them to turn over the puck and capitalize on their mistakes,” Parent said. “It’s a mentality and we’re starting to get that mentality ingrained in our lineup with each small step that we take.”
The Bobcats carried over their success from Saturday night into Sunday, shutting out the Sherwood Park Crusaders 4-0 on the road.
Martin was between the pipes on Sunday as well, picking up his first shutout of the season, improving his record to 4-8-2.
The pair of wins were extra satisfying for Martin, who was a member of last year’s team that reached the playoffs finishing the regular season with a 38-22 record.
“When you haven’t won as many games as we’d like, when you do get them it feels great, it was nice to finally do some things to win a game instead of kind of giving them away like we have been,” he explained.
They’ll hope to make it three wins in a row tonight when they host the Crusaders. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.