It was the first of four games over the next three weekends between the two teams, and the Lloydminster Bobcats set the tone against a shorthanded Drayton Valley Thunder team.
For the first time in six games, the Cats scored the opening goal as Christian Lloyd took a feed from Taylor Mulder and put it home to make it 1-0.
Later in the first, the Thunder dropped a run of perfect penalty killing over five games – 20 straight opportunities – for the Bobcats as Brayden Harris struck to make it 1-1.
The Cats responded minutes later on a man advantage of their own as Brett Smythe struck on the powerplay to make it 2-1, and that's where the score sat after one
Morgan Messenger, playing in his 200th career junior hockey game, put the Cats up 3-1 with a beautiful wrist shot early in the second. Less than a minute later, Kevin Darrar got in on the action with a snipe from in tight to put the Bobcats ahead 4-1. Former Bobcat Austin Yaremchuk got the Thunder back on the board just over 30 seconds later with an assist from another former Bobcat, Troy Rapuano. Lloydminster would have the last laugh in the middle frame, however, as Kris Spriggs busted a seven-game scoring slump with a goal to make it 5-2 Bobcats after two periods.
The home team kept it rolling in the third as Eric Benshadle made a clever move in the high slot to find room, walking in and beating Drayton Valley goaltender Brett Zarowny to push the lead to 6-2. The Thunder answered back quickly once again as Nicholas Wihak scored on a partial breakaway to cut the lead to three just 0:43 later. The Cats got back on the board later in the period as Messenger scored his second of the game, but the Thunder responded just 0:31 later this time as Brayden Harris made it 7-4. Noah Bauld would put the final nail in the coffin with just under five minutes to play to seal an 8-4 victory.
Key Points: With a goal tonight, Eric Benshadle extended his current point streak to seven games, having scored nine points in that span. Messenger, playing in his 200th career Junior A game between Yarmouth, Whitecourt, and Lloydminster, reached 49 points on the season with a three point night. The Bobcats powerplay struck twice on four opportunities, while the penalty kill allowed one goal on two chances. Alex Leclerc backstopped the Bobcats to a win for the 28th time this season, tied for the highest total league-wide with Josh Davies of the Brooks Bandits.
The two teams meet again at the Civic Centre tomorrow night at 7:30.