A promising first forty minutes led into a disappointing third period as the Lloydminster Bobcats fell short by a score of 4-1 to the Bonnyville Pontiacs in the 2016 home opener at the Centennial Civic Centre.
The two teams battled neck and neck through the first two periods to a 1-1 draw, but the Pontiacs were able to find an extra gear that the Bobcats couldn't answer as three goals and a 16-6 shot advantage put the game away.
Josh Borynec scored what was ultimately the winning goal 7:06 into the third period, giving his team its first lead of the night. His first goal of the season came with an assist from Derek Brown, and took some air out of the home team. Five minutes later it was a power play goal from Ryan Piche to add an insurance marker, extending the lead to 3-1.
The final dagger came on a late Bobcats power play as goaltender Austin McGrath came to the bench to make it a 6-on-4 advantage. Pontiac forward Chad Hurtubise directed a loose puck past a sprawling Jamieson Ree at centre ice and found the back of the net to take a 4-1 lead.
Lloydminster native Austin McGrath was strong between the pipes for the Bobcats tonight, stopping 35 of 39 shots fired in his direction and keeping a blank sheet until late in the second period. His counterpart Josh Williams was also impressive as he stopped 27 of 28 shots including several highlight reel saves at key moments.
Special teams have plagued the Cats through two games, as the team's power play unit sits at 0 for 9 after opening weekend. The drought was nearly busted early in the game tonight as the home team buzzed around the Pontiacs net, creating several chances but never putting it home. Bonnyville on the other hand has registered both a power play and a shorthanded goal in both games so far.
Zach Webb continued his strong start in a Bobcats uniform, notching his second goal in as many games just 1:09 into the contest as he found a rebound off the pad of Williams and knocked it home to get the crowd into it early. Linemate Kobe Walker was the creator of the play as he forced a pair of turnovers at the Pontiacs blue line before getting a good shot on goal to force the rebound. Walker has an assist on both of Webb's goals so far.
Thanks in part to stellar goaltending from McGrath, the lead held up until late in the second period when Carter Rhine found a loose puck in the high slot and put it home. McGrath had just delivered a show stopping save to keep the Pontiacs off the board, but wasn't able to recover in time as the puck quickly came back into play and on goal.
The Bobcats will now look for their first win on Wednesday night at the Civic Centre as the 1-1 Sherwood Park Crusaders come to town for a 7:30 contest.