Returning to home ice with a 2-0 series lead in hand, the Lloydminster Bobcats wasted no time getting back in the driver’s seat, scoring 1:15 into the first period on the way to a 7-2 victory over the Whitecourt Wolverines in game three Monday night.
Before the stands could even fill up, Bobcats forward Kris Spriggs took advantage of a turnover in Wolverines territory, busting towards the goal from the right side and beating goal tender Garrett Mason with a snap shot to the far side making it 1-0 just 1:15 into the contest.
The Cats would get into some penalty trouble, starting with a cross-checking penalty against Graydon Smith near the midway point of the period, but shortly after his penalty expired it was Brett Smythe displaying all kinds of patience in the offensive zone, outwaiting Mason before putting a backhand shot home to put the hometown Cats ahead 2-0.
With a two goal lead, the Bobcats proceeded to kill of two straight penalties before adding to their lead as Nick Quillan jumped on a loose puck in neutral ice, leading a 3-on-2 into the Wolverines zone. With passing lanes taken away, Quillan elected to shoot with Mason coming up with the stop, but Noah Bauld knocked home the rebound to make it 3-0 Bobcats.
Lloydminster would get their first power play opportunity late in the first period, but failed to muster a goal, heading into the intermission with a 3-0 lead and a 13-7 advantage on the shot clock.
The second period saw a slowdown of offensive production for the Bobcats, with three straight unconverted power plays.
However, with less than five minutes to play in the middle frame, Lloydminster defenceman Stefan Wood held a puck in the zone, executing a give-and-go with Kevin Darrar before beating Mason through the five hole with a backhand move, making it 4-0 Bobcats.
The power play slump would end with less than a minute to play in the second as Austin O’Rourke fed a pinching Nick Quillan in the slot, who put a wrist shot five hole on Tanner McCorriston, who came in to replace Mason after Wood’s goal.
Through forty minutes, the Cats held a 5-0 lead, and a 23-10 shot advantage.
With Bryson Traptow in the penalty box to start the third after a late second period penalty, the Bobcats power play converted again as Connor Odelein set up a screen in front of McCorriston, helping Zac Giroux bury a wrist shot five hole for his second goal of the playoffs, pushing the lead to 6-0.
The Wolverines did find some jump in the third, as 1:27 after Giroux’s marker, Jaedon Leslie swatted home a rebound to bust Alex Leclerc’s shutout bid.
Whitecourt would strike again before the ten minute mark of the period, as Elliott Peterson forced a turnover on an aggressive forecheck before beating Leclerc high glove to cut the Bobcats lead to 6-2.
From there, the Bobcats clamped down defensively, and Odelein rounded out the scoring for the Cats with a beautiful wrist shot over Mason’s glove hand for his first career AJHL playoff goal to make it 7-2. Mason had come back in to replace McCorriston after Giroux’s early third period marker.
The Wolverines led in shots in the third period 12-10, but the Bobcats had a 33-22 advantage overall.
NOTES: Whitecourt was without D Kellan Cornelis (injury) and F Linden Penner (injury) for the third straight game this series, and also missing F Justin Young and F Frederic Letourneau to suspension…’99 D Cody Laskosky made his AJHL playoff debut as an AP for the Wolverines…Lloydminster was again without F Troy Van Tetering (lower body injury – fifth straight game), D Christian Lloyd (upper body injury – third straight game), and D Griffin Mumby (upper body injury – second straight game)…’99 D Brendan Borbely appeared in his first AJHL playoff game as an AP for the Bobcats…With a point tonight, Alex Pernitsky’s playoff point streak has been extended to six games…Lloydminster’s power play has now converted 4 of 12 opportunities (33.3%) in the second round, while the Bobcats penalty kill unit is a perfect 15 for 15…With a two point night, Brett Smythe has tied linemate Eric Benshadle for the lead in Bobcats playoff scoring at 8 points…Bobcats G Alex Leclerc is now 6-0 as a starter in these playoffs.
Game four will be played at the Civic Centre in Lloydminster tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 22nd) at 7:30PM. Tickets are available at tickets.lloydminsterbobcats.ca, by calling the Bobcats office at 780.871.0900, or by purchasing directly from the Bobcats office.