With the excitement of the opening weekend home and home matchup with the Bonnyville Pontiacs now in the past, the Lloydminster Bobcats showed no letdown Friday night against the Whitecourt Wolverines.
After last season's first round matchup in which the Bobcats defeated the Wolverines 3 games to 1, there was no love lost between the teams right from the start.
However, it was a player unfamiliar to the rivalry that got the Bobcats on the board early. Marco Ballarin was able to track down a loose puck behind Wolverines goaltender Tanner McCorriston just 3:11 into the first frame, putting the Bobcats up 1-0. From there, penalty trouble would ensue for the 'Cats who found themselves down a man twice in the opening frame.
They were able to kill off both penalties, but sandwiched between the two was a leveling goal from Erik Pedersen of the Wolverines, who was able to at last track down a bouncing puck that was set in motion on a bank off the back wall that hopped over two Whitecourt sticks before Pedersen knocked it into the cage.
The Bobcats found themselves on the penalty kill just 0:49 seconds into the middle stanza, with Taylor Mulder being sent off for boarding. The 'Cats would kill that off and get a powerplay opportunity just over five minutes later, but were unable to convert. At that point, neither side had allowed a powerplay goal against.
However, just one second after the Bobcats powerplay expired, Noah Bauld was able to get a handle on a loose puck at the side of the Wolverines net – in the same spot where Pedersen got his team on the board in the first period – and made no mistake on his first Alberta Junior Hockey League goal, putting the 'Cats ahead again.
10 seconds later, Cole Josefchak would be sent off for holding, and this time the Bobcats penalty kill couldn't hold up, as Bryson Traptow poked the puck over the line behind Leclerc to draw the game together once again.
Just shy of the eight minute mark of the third period, Marco Ballarin laid a thundering check on Wolverines rookie Matt Gervais, setting off a chain of events that resulted in 58 minutes in penalties on one stoppage. Evan Tschumi and Jordan Davies were each given five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct, Alex Pernitsky and Taden Rattie were each sentenced to two minutes for roughing and a ten minute misconduct, and Taylor Mulder was given an extra two minutes for roughing.
This would end up being the Wolverines last powerplay of the night, and the visitors were unable to convert, putting their final tally at 1 for 8.
Only fourteen seconds after Mulder came out of the box, 1214 fans were on their feet at the Centennial Civic Centre as Noah Bauld disappeared behind the Wolverines defence, caught a long pass from linemate Kevin Darrar, and froze McCorriston before sliding his second goal of the night between the goaltender's pads to give the 'Cats a 3-2 lead.
That's all the home side would need as Alex Leclerc locked down his net for the final 9:58 of the game to keep the Bobcats undefeated on the season.
Lloydminster finished 0 for 2 on the powerplay, and were outshot 30-27 on the night.
In his first game with the Bobcats, Bauld was named the Home Star of the game, while second year forward Bryson Traptow earned Away Star.
The Bobcats are back on home ice tomorrow night against the Grande Prairie Storm as they look to push their record to 4-0.
Photo Courtesy of Jesse Tieman – 106.1 The Goat