Coming into the third period down by a pair of goals, the Lloydminster Bobcats put the pedal down and pulled ahead of the Spruce Grove Saints for a 5-4 victory on Friday night at the Civic Centre.
Late in the second frame, the two teams were deadlocked at 2-2 in what was a hotly contested matchup to that point. In the second period alone, 50 minutes in penalties were handed out. With the score even, the Saints were able to find the go ahead goal as Nicolas Correale beat Pierce Diamond, converting a back door feed. Less than a minute later, it was Brandon Biro knocking a rebound past Diamond to make it 4-2 for Spruce Grove with just over a minute to go in the second, and that's how the teams went into the locker room.
From there, the Bobcats came out determined to change the course of the game, and opened up the third with an 8-0 advantage in shots on goal. Just past the 4:00 mark, Cats leading scorer Kevin Darrar found Saints leading scorer Tyler Busch in the trolley tracks, putting a shoulder into him and bringing the crowd to its feet. Saints forward Dondre Watson retaliated in defence of his teammate, and the Bobcats received a power play as Watson was called for cross-checking.
On the ensuing man advantage, it was defenceman Nick Quillan putting a puck on goal with a heavy screen in front, and it found its way past Murray to cut the Saints lead to 4-3. For Quillan, it was his second power play goal in the last three games, and for the Bobcats a huge spark with 14:00 to play.
Minutes later, it was Kris Spriggs jumping on a Saints turnover in front of the net, lifting it over Murray to level the game at 4-4, keeping the momentum firmly on the side of the Bobcats. Spriggs, who assisted Quillan's earlier goal, kept up his red hot production with a pair of goals tonight.
Just eleven seconds after Spriggs' marker, Ryan Chynoweth brought the puck up the right wall and dished a beautiful drop pass to defenceman Griffin Mumby, who snapped a wrist shot past a screened Murray to give the Bobcats the final lead of the night at 5-4.
From there, the Saints did everything they could to find a way past Diamond, but the Bobcats defence did a good job of locking things down while Diamond came up big whenever called upon, handing the Saints their first loss in eight games.
It was Bobcats captain Taylor Mulder opening the scoring tonight, as he took a feed in front of the net and beat Murray five hole to make it 1-0 near the midway point of the first period. Mulder's third goal of the year was a reward for some great play of late by the captain and linemates Zac Giroux and Connor Odelein.
The Saints answered back quickly as Biro took a feed from Busch, snapping a puck past Diamond's blocker side to tie the game at 1-1. Later in the first period, Saints defenceman Isaac Farrah took a cross-ice feed and put a puck on goal, which Diamond got a piece of but not enough as it trickled past him to make it 2-1 after 20 minutes.
Early in the second, it was Brett Smythe who answered back for the Cats, finding himself alone on Murray and making a nice backhand move to bring the game to 2-2 on his 10th goal of the season.
Shortly afterward, attention turned to centre ice as Bobcats defenceman Stefan Wood and Saints forward Scott Ferguson squared off for a tilt, with Wood getting a clean decision in the bout. Tensions only increased throughout the second period, highlighted by an after the whistle scrum after the Saints fourth goal, but the Cats regrouped after forty and came back with a strong, physical effort to seal the win in the third period.
With Quillan's power play marker, the Cats have now struck in five consecutive games on the man advantage, converting once on six opportunities tonight. The Saints had three cracks at the man advantage, but were unable to convert on any.
Bobcats goaltender Pierce Diamond turned aside 29 of 32 shots to earn his 11th win of the season, while Murray made 24 saves on 29 shots for just his fourth loss of the year.
The Bobcats return on action on Sunday afternoon against the Olds Grizzlys in a 2:30 matchup at the Civic Centre.