JASON LA ROSE
LLOYDMINSTER, Alta./Sask. – Logan Mick scored the eventual game-winning goal early in the third period, and the Brooks Bandits held off the Lloydminster Bobcats 4-3 on Tuesday night in an all-AJHL showdown at the 2016 RBC Cup.
The game marked the 13th time since the start of the five-team format in 1990 that two teams from the same league had met at Canada’s National Junior A Championship, and the first time both came from Alberta.
Cale Makar, Derek Lodermeier and Parker Foo had the other goals for Brooks, which wrapped up a spot in the semifinals with the victory.
Noah Bauld, Taylor Mulder and Morgan Messenger did the honours for Lloydminster, which scored twice in the final three minutes to cut the Bandits’ lead to one, but couldn’t find the tying goal.
Just as they did in Monday’s overtime win over Carleton Place, the Bobcats found themselves in a very early hole; Makar cut into the slot and wired a wrist shot over the glove of Lloydminster goaltender Alex Leclerc on Brooks’ first shot on goal just 1:12 in, taking the crowd at the Centennial Civic Centre out of it early.
But Bauld pulled the hosts even with six minutes to go in the opening frame, getting his stick on a point shot from Christian Lloyd and sneaking it past Brooks netminder Garret Hughson.
Any momentum the Bobcats had, though, disappeared in the second period.
Lodermeier gave the Bandits the lead for good, sweeping a rebound under Leclerc on a Brooks power play at 6:49, and Foo raced down the left wing before squeezing a shot through the Bobcats goaltender at 13:36.
Mick looked to have iced the win at 5:39 of the third, taking a pretty cross-ice feed from Ty Mappin and ripping a wrist shot past the blocker of Leclerc, but Lloydminster wouldn’t go away.
Mulder got the crowd back into it with 2:52 to go, deftly redirecting a shot from Lloyd with the Bobcats enjoying the man advantage, and Messenger jammed in a loose puck with 59.9 seconds to go to set up a wild finish, but the Bobcats got no closer.
Lloydminster finished with a 29-27 advantage in shots on goal in the third meeting of the season between the teams; Brooks had earned a 5-3 win on Jan. 22 before the Bobcats answered with a 5-2 victory on Feb. 27.
Neither team will see the ice again until Thursday, when the preliminary round comes to a close. Brooks is up first, taking on the Carleton Place Canadians (3:30 p.m. MT), while Lloydminster meets the first-place Trenton Golden Hawks (7:30 p.m. MT).