Following a pair of losses on home ice against the Whitecourt Wolverines last weekend, the Lloydminster Bobcats have now strung together three straight wins following a weekend sweep of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
In both games, the Oil Barons were able to get on the board first, taking advantage of sluggish starts by the Cats. On Friday, the Cats were able to answer back with a pair of goals from Christian Lloyd and Brett Smythe, but on Saturday the 1-0 lead held up until the third period.
The two first period goals in Friday night’s game were the start of a run of five straight goals by the Bobcats as they built up a 5-1 lead through 40 minutes. Morgan Messenger, Griffin Mumby, and Troy Van Tetering each struck in the middle frame on Friday night to help the Bobcats along to a 5-3 win in the opening game.
Both nights, the second period was dominated by the Bobcats as they outshot the Oil Barons a combined 28-10 over the two nights. However, on Saturday all 12 shots were turned aside by Fort McMurray goaltender Forbes Ploszaj.
The goals didn’t come until the third period for the Bobcats on Saturday night, as Ryan Chynoweth found the back of the net at the 6:06 mark to make the game 1-1. Six goals were scored in total in a back-and-forth final frame, with Eric Benshadle, Zac Giroux, and finally Kevin Darrar doing the damage for the Bobcats. Darrar’s goal came with 0:09 to play in regulation time to secure a 4-3 victory.
Pierce Diamond started Friday night’s game, stopping 23 of 26 shots for his 13th win of the year. Saturday night was Alex Leclerc’s turn, and he made 14 saves on 17 shots to earn win number 27 on the season.
The Bobcats now come out of the weekend in sole possession of 2nd place in the Viterra AJHL North Division, with a one point lead on the Whitecourt Wolverines. However, Whitecourt still holds two games in hand.
For the third time in franchise history, the Bobcats reach the 40 win mark on the season after the weekend sweep. It has been done previously by the 1986-87 Lancers and the 1999-2000 Blazers, with both teams recording 42 wins in a 64 game season. This year’s Bobcats team has won 40 out of 54 games, with six games remaining on the schedule.
Next action comes on Wednesday night as the Cats travel to Sherwood Park to take on the Crusaders.