When they needed it most, the Lloydminster Bobcats were able to find the back of the net in the third period to pull away from a pesky Olds Grizzlys squad on the way to a 6-3 victory on Friday night, breaking a three-game winless streak in the process.
The Grizzlys were able to come back from two goals down for a second time of the night in the third period, with Chase Olsen scoring Olds’ second shorthanded goal of the night to tie the game at 3-3, despite the Bobcats holding a significant shot advantage. However, less than one minute later Bobcats forward Taylor Allan beat Grizzlys goaltender Kurtis Chapman for his second goal of the game, which ultimately stood as the game winner.
PHOTO: FIVEPENNY PHOTOS
The 4-3 lead would hold for about five minutes until Morgan Messenger took a long shot off the rush and fooled Chapman to extend the Bobcats advantage to 5-3. A few minutes later, Messenger would strike again to score the final goal of the night, firming up the final score at 6-3.
Tonight, the Bobcats needed the offensive outburst to overcome some defensive breakdowns that kept the Grizzlys close. The ‘Cats jumped on top early as Zac Giroux extended his goal-scoring streak to four games to make it 1-0. Shortly after, Allan tucked away is first of the night to make it a two-goal lead.
Early in the second however, Grizzlys forward Austin Holmes found himself alone on Alex Leclerc on a Bobcats power play and snuck the puck in to cut the lead to 2-1 with a shorthanded marker. The ‘Cats struck back on the power play as Nick Quillan netted his fifth of the season on a wrist shot from the high slot, but before the end of the period, Holmes struck again for the Grizzlys to make it a one-goal game again.
The second intermission came early for both teams as a broken pane of glass with just over four minutes left in the second period sent both teams to the dressing rooms ahead of schedule.
When play resumed, the second period would finish without consequence, but early in the third Olsen drew the Grizzlys even for the first time. From there, the Bobcats offense took over to put the Grizzlys away.
Battling injuries, and missing Noah Bauld and Troy Van Tetering who are competing with Team Canada West at the World Jr. A Challenge, the Bobcats brought in three affiliated players from midget AAA teams in southern Alberta. In their first AJHL games, Brady Barclay (Calgary Flames), Eric Lemire (Calgary North Stars), and Cameron Shorrock (CFR Chemicals Bisons) all played a regular shift and fit right in at the Jr. A level. On Giroux’s opening goal, Shorrock earned an assist for his first AJHL point.
Extending his streak, Giroux has now scored 13 on the campaign. Allan’s pair gives him three in the past two games, and 11 overall this year, while Messenger leads the team with 16 markers on the season. Kevin Darrar, Christian Lloyd, and Evan Tschumi each picked up a pair of assists in the win.
Special teams were a major factor both ways, as the Bobcats were able to score a power play goal for the third straight game, ultimately going 1-for-7 on the man advantage. On the flipside, the ‘Cats allowed a pair of shorthanded goals, making it four in the last four games after playing thirty games without allowing one to start the season. Despite scoring twice on the penalty kill, the Grizzlys weren’t able to capitalize on six power play opportunities.
Final shots on goal were 36-20 for the Bobcats, and Alex Leclerc earned his 18th win of the year.
The southern road trip continues for the ‘Cats tomorrow with a 7:00PM matchup in Canmore against the Eagles.