For the third straight game, the Spruce Grove Saints built a multi-goal lead in the second period on the way to a convincing victory over the Lloydminster Bobcats in game three of the Gas Drive AJHL North Division Final.
With the game knotted at one, the Saints had goals from Tyler Busch, Brandon Biro, and Trey Fix-Wolansky (2nd of the night) in the span of 4:28 to take a 4-1 lead into the second intermission.
Photo:Jesse Tieman @TiemanRadio @1061TheGoat
Down by four, the Bobcats found themselves shorthanded early in the third but were able to kill off the penalty, creating a shorthanded chance as the seconds expired. Saints goaltender Matthew Murray was able to shut the door, and moments later Cole Plotnikoff took advantage of a Bobcats turnover and fooled goaltender Alex Leclerc with a slap shot to extend the Spruce Grove lead to four.
Lloydminster would continue to push back, as Ryan Chynoweth knocked home a rebound from an Eric Benshadle shot, making it 5-2 with 12:08 to play.
Aggressively trying to cut further into the lead, the Bobcats brought Leclerc to the bench to bring on an extra attacker with around four minutes to play. The Cats were able to control in the zone, but couldn't muster a goal before Fix-Wolansky knocked home an empty-net goal to complete a hat trick, salting away a 6-2 victory for Spruce Grove.
The Bobcats looked impressive to start, playing fast, physical hockey in front of their home crowd and jumping out to a 1-0 lead courtesy of Austin O'Rourke. Lloydminster was able to take a 1-0 lead into the intermission, having outshot the Saints 13-10.
Most of the second period was more of the same as the two teams battled each way, with Fix-Wolansky getting his first of the night by tapping in a seeing eye feed from Jake Mykitiuk eight minutes in to tie the game.
The back and forth play continued until past the fifteen minute mark of the period, when Busch picked up his own rebound, beating Leclerc one on one to start the late period onslaught.
Shots on goal ultimately favoured the Bobcats 31-25, but Spruce Grove converted on a handful of glaring mistakes to blow the game open.
NOTES: With the hat trick tonight, Fix-Wolansky has now produced seven points (three goals, four assists) in three games this round…Kris Spriggs is the lone Bobcat to have a point in every game in the North Final, with one goal and two assists in three games…Bobcats forward Morgan Messenger finished serving his suspension tonight, and will be eligible to return to the lineup for game four tomorrow night…D Griffin Mumby (upper body injury) was the other Bobcat not dressed tonight….Saints F Josh Harris (upper body) and F Colton Leiter (upper body) both missed their second straight game to injury, and F Dondre Watson, Jack Hamly, and Brendan Holterhus were also out of the lineup…The Saints put up six goals in every game so far this series, outscoring the Bobcats 16-7 overall.
Facing elimination, the Bobcats take to home ice again Tuesday night at 7:30PM! Get your tickets at tickets.lloydminsterbobcats.ca.