The Lloydminster Bobcats got the early jump, but one goal was all the team would find as they ultimately fell 4-1 to the Sherwood Park Crusaders at the Civic Centre Wednesday night.
Whiteout conditions in the Lloydminster region brought traffic to a halt during the late afternoon, but the Crusaders were able to make it into town along with a bus full of fans from Sherwood Park. All things considered, an impressive crowd of 868 made it out to take in the contest.
New Bobcat Rob Johnson hit the scoresheet again in his second game as a Bobcat, setting up a nifty tic tac toe play that resulted in Zach Webb tapping in his ninth goal of the campaign to make it 1-0 Lloydminster just 5:38 into the first period. Chasetan Braid had the other assist on the goal, and all three linemates now have three points in two games since the addition of Johnson.
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However, the tables turned from there as the Crusaders were able to strike with a pair in the offensive zone later in the period, first on a centring play from Alex Rotundo that was able to bounce it's way off a Bobcats stick and into the net to tie the game at 1-1. Assists on the goal went to Tanner Younghans and Chase Torontow.
Next up it was Tanner Younghans taking a feed a feed off the wall from Matthew Dykstra and unloading a shot from inside the faceoff dot over the shoulder of Bobcats goaltender Jeremy Kelleway to put the Crusaders up 2-1. Alex Rotundo was credited with the secondary assist.
There was just one goal to speak of in the second frame, when a breakout pass missed the tape in the Bobcats zone and wound up on the stick of Crusaders defenceman Cam Reagan, who blasted a slapshot past Kelleway to increase the lead to 3-1, which would hold up after forty minutes.
Despite some good pressure from the Cats in the third, the Crusaders landed the dagger late in the period with Ty Readman finding a loose puck in the crease and putting it away to make it 4-1 Sherwood Park. Assists on the goal went to Merritt Oszytko and Chase Torontow.
The Bobcats saw four power play opportunities on the night, and failed to find paydirt as their drought on the man advantage stretched to 26 straight opportunities. On a positive note for the Cats, the penalty kill kept the Crusaders off the board in three opportunities, and has now shut down 18 of the last 19 shorthanded situations.
Kelleway made 28 saves on 32 shots in the Bobcats goal, while Zac Klassen stopped 22 of 23 for Sherwood Park.
Next action for the Bobcats is a key road trip this weekend with dates against the Grande Prairie Storm on Friday (Bobcats are eight points back with six games in hand), Drayton Valley on Saturday (two points back with three games in hand), and the Spruce Grove Saints, who currently sit third in the Viterra AJHL North Division.