A late comeback by the Lloydminster Bobcats was quickly sniffed out by the Bonnyville Pontiacs in a heartbreaking loss for the Cats Friday night at the Civic Centre.
In a back and forth affair, that saw Bonnyville battle back from a pair of deficits, the Bobcats erased a late one goal lead for the Yaks, before Bonnyville responded with the game winner in the dying seconds.
On the power-play late in the third period, and trailing 4-3, the Cats elected to pull goaltender Curtis Meger, and the move paid instant dividends. Straight from the bench as the extra-attacker, rookie forward Hunter Lamb crashed the Pontiacs goal and put home a lose puck to tie the game with 1:37 remaining.
However, with just 27 seconds remaining Isaac Saniga responded for Bonnyville. Saniga put home his second goal of the game, when he scored on a rebound opportunity in tight around the Bobcat’s net.
The final few minutes served as a fitting finish to a game that saw these two rivals battle all night long.
The Bobcats opened the game’s scoring midway through the first period when Tucker Scantlebury scored his fourth goal of the season, and second goal in as many games.
The game remained 1-0 in favour of Lloydminster heading into the first intermission.
In the second period, the flood gates began to open in both ends.
After Luke Albert tied the game 1-1 six minutes into the frame, Bobcat’s rookie defenceman Mason Waite hammered home a loose puck from the high slot just three minutes later to regain Lloydminster’s one goal advantage. The goal was Waite’s first career AJHL goal.
With just under five minutes to go in the second, Reid Irwin fired his second goal of the season beating Pontiac’s goalie Easton Hesse giving the Bobcats a two goal lead. Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived.
After the Cats took a penalty on the ensuing shift, they were quickly burnt on a Sean Thomson goal, before Noah Lugli tied the game 3-3 with just 12 seconds to play in the period.
Once the final period got underway it did not take very long for the Yaks to secure their first lead of the contest. Only 13 seconds into the period Saniga scored his first of two goals in the contest.
Bobcat’s goalie Curtis Meger made 23 saves on 28 shots in the loss, but managed to turn aside numerous high quality Pontiac’s scoring chances. Easton Hesse made 21 stops on 25 shots for Bonnyville.
Lloydminster finished the game going 1 for 5 with the man-advantage, while the Pontiacs finished 1 for 3 on the power-play.
Next up for a Cats is a Wednesday matinee with the Sherwood Park Crusaders, as Lloydminster is set to host their second annual Hockey Hooky Day. After that the Bobcats head to Fort McMurray for games Friday night and Saturday night against the Oil Barons.