Seven straight powerplay opportunities for the Spruce Grove Saints between the second and third period helped the AJHL's top team knock off the Lloydminster Bobcats 4-2.
Midway through the second period, Saints forward Austin Hunter blindsided Bobcats defenceman Christian Lloyd with a vicious hit, eventually leading to a pair of retaliatory penalties to the Bobcats which set off the penalty parade. Already ahead 1-0, the Saints were able to add one more on the powerplay in the second period courtesy of Taylor Crunk to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room after 40 minutes. The teams were back to even strength to start the third period, and the 'Cats got back on the board.
PHOTO CREDIT: FIVEPENNY PHOTOS
Noah Bauld tracked a rebound off of Saints goaltender Matthew Murray to cut the Saints lead in half 1:20 into the third period, but the comeback would be stopped as the Saints quickly got back on the powerplay.
Taylor Mulder was sent off for elbowing at the 2:40 mark of the third period, and the Saints struck on the powerplay again as Jordan Thomas beat Alex Leclerc with a shot from the blueline to go ahead 3-1. Less than a minute later, Ryan Cox found space in front of the Saints net and converted a pass from Nicolas Correale to make it 4-1.
From there, three more Bobcats would be assessed consecutive minors, leading to a pair of 5-on-3 situations for the Saints. However, the Bobcats penalty kill unit was able to keep Spruce Grove at bay and successfully kill off all three. Once the teams returned to even strength, the 'Cats found themselves with less than ten minutes to claw back.
The penalty momentum shifted to the Saints late in the game, with the Bobcats having two powerplay opportunities in the final eight minutes. After failing to convert the first time, the 'Cats would break through late in the third period as Brendan Kallis knocked a rebound out of mid air and past Murray to make it 4-2. It would be too little too late as the Saints were able to run out the rest of the clock on their way to a 4-2 victory.
Midway through the first period, the Saints jumped ahead of the Bobcats on a goal from Dexter McLeod, as the former Trail Smoke Eater knocked in a rebound for his first AJHL marker. From there, both sides settled in to a fast-paced, physical game until Hunter's hit in the second period shifted the trajectory of the contest.
The Saints went 2 for 7 on the man advantage tonight, while the Bobcats converted once on three opportunities, with two powerplay situations coming late in the third.
Alex Leclerc suffered just his second loss this season, while Murray picked up his 13th win of the year as the Saints winning streak extended to 7.
The Bobcats are back in action on Friday night as they welcome the Fort McMurray Oil Barons to the Civic Centre for Teddy Bear Toss night.