After stumbling in the second period in the first three games of the series, the Lloydminster Bobcats scored three goals in the middle frame on the way to a 6-1 game four victory over the Spruce Grove Saints, forcing a game five in the Gas Drive AJHL North Division Final.
Tied up at one goal per side after 20 minutes, the Bobcats gained their second lead of the series early in the second period as Eric Benshadle led a two-on-one with Ryan Chynoweth, dishing it to his linemate who put it away for his sixth goal of the postseason.
Photo Credit: Tyler Marr, Meridian Booster
Chynoweth's first of the night was a turning point, as Morgan Messenger and Taylor Mulder joined in on the scoring within 1:56 to give Lloydminster a 4-1 lead just 5:27 into the second period, and setting the Saints firmly on their heels.
Spruce Grove had three power play opportunities before the second period came to a close, two of which were abbreviated including a 0:27 5-on-3, but were unable to get closer than the cross bar as the Bobcats penalty kept a blank sheet.
The 4-1 lead carried into the second intermission for Lloydminster, who had an 8-7 shot advantage in the middle frame, making it 20-17 for Spruce Grove through two periods.
In the third, Spruce Grove was unable to muster any push back as Chynoweth buried a pair of goals, completing his first hat trick in a Bobcats uniform to finish off a run of six unanswered goals to make it 6-1 for the home team.
The two sides racked up 68 combined penalty minutes in the third period alone, as the officiating crew didn't hesitate to send players to an early shower in an effort to extinguish any smoldering fires, and the Bobcats penalty kill finished the night a perfect seven for seven. Spruce Grove's perfect streak on the penalty kill stayed on track as well, with five successful kills tonight and now 28 straight in the postseason.
It was Spruce Grove getting things going in the first period as Scott Ferguson beat Leclerc blocker side on a short handed rush to make it 1-0. That lead held up until late in the period when the Bobcats drew even.
Corralling a loose puck at the top of the offensive zone, Chynoweth dished to defenceman Alex Pernitsky who drove down the right wing before patiently going across the net front, outwaiting Saints goaltender Ravi Dattani before putting it home to level the score after one.
NOTES: Bobcats F Morgan Messenger returned to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension, scoring his fourth goal of the playoffs in the second period…D Griffin Mumby and F Noah Bauld (both upper body) were out of action for the Cats…Spruce Grove's growing injury list featured F Connor Lukan (upper body) and F Cole Plotnikoff (upper body), with Dondre Watson and Brendan Holterhus pulling back into the lineup…Saints F Colton Leiter (upper body) and Josh Harris (upper body) sat out game four, as did F Jack Hamly…The Saints allowed six goals for the first time since December 4th, when they fell 6-1 on the road to the Brooks Bandits…After allowing 15 goals in the first three games of the series, Bobcats G Alex Leclerc stopped 32 of 33 shots for his eighth win of the playoffs…The line of Chynoweth, Benshadle, and Brett Smythe combined for six points officially, but will be credited with eight after scoring corrections…With an assist tonight, Bobcats F Kris Spriggs kept his point streak alive with four points in four games this round.
Game five will be played on Friday night in Spruce Grove at 7:00PM! Stay posted for updates on a Bobcats fan bus from Lloydminster.