Having controlled much of the second period with only one goal to show for it, the Spruce Grove Saints got the knockout punch they were looking for with a 5-on-3 power play goal early in the third to put the game out of reach for the Lloydminster Bobcats, putting away the Gas Drive North Division Championship in five games.
Heading into the second intermission, the Bobcats trailed the Saints 2-1, and although Spruce Grove had better chances through the middle frame the Cats were still very much in the game before being assessed a pair of minor penalties to give Spruce Grove a 5-on-3 advantage just prior to the intermission. For 0:45 to close out the second period, Lloydminster was able to weather the storm and keep the game within one, setting the stage for a critical third period.
However, it took just 0:22 in the final stanza for Scott Ferguson to convert on the two-man advantage, making it a 3-1 lead in favour of the Saints. Lloydminster would kill off the remaining 5-on-4, but Spruce Grove went for the jugular moments later.
Battling for a loose puck in Bobcats territory, Saints forward Trey Fix-Wolansky was able to beat the Lloydminster defenders to the puck before slipping it past goaltender Alex Leclerc on the blocker side to boost the Saints lead to 4-1. In just 3:05, Spruce Grove delivered a one-two punch that would ultimately knock the Bobcats out of the playoffs.
Lloydminster continued to press through the third period, outshooting the Saints 10-6 through the final 20 minutes, but couldn't get anything past Saints goaltender Matthew Murray. The Bobcats had a pair of power play opportunities in the final five minutes in the game, but it wasn't enough as Spruce Grove finished the series a perfect 15 for 15 on the penalty kill.
In total, Murray, turned aside 24 of 25 shots in game five, and maintained a save percentage of 0.935 in three games during the North Final. Alex Leclerc stopped 28 of 32 shots for the Bobcats Friday night.
Spruce Grove got on the board first in game five, as Jake Mykitiuk sent a shot on goal from a distance that deflected off a Bobcats defenceman and fooled Leclerc to make it 1-0. Before the period came to a close, Bobcats defenceman Christian Lloyd found Kevin Darrar back door for a tap-in goal to draw the game even through 20 minutes.
Just like in the first, Mykitiuk put Spruce Grove ahead just over three minutes in the second with his second goal of the night and sixth of the postseason, which ultimately stood as the series clinching goal.
NOTES: Bobcats D Griffin Mumby (upper body) and F Noah Bauld (upper body) were once again out of the lineup…Injuries continued to plague the Saints as D Jordan Thomas, F Dondre Watson, D Colton Leiter, F Jack Hamly, and F Cole Plotnikoff all missed game five…Fix-Wolansky led all skaters in the series with nine points (four goals, five assists) in five games played…Spruce Grove will now face Brooks in the Gas Drive Championship for the second straight season…The Saints have made the AJHL Championship for the fourth straight season, and seven of the last eight…Spruce Grove has won the title four times in the previous six appearances…The Bobcats next game will be on Saturday, May 15th on opening night at the RBC Cup, against the number one seed out of Western Canada.