VIDEO: Cats Take Another One in Whitecourt

After surviving an early push from the Whitecourt Wolverines, the Lloydminster Bobcats were able to build up a 3-0 lead over the course of 18:48 en route to a 5-2 victory in game two of the second round playoff matchup, pushing the series lead to 2-0 after a pair of games on the road.

Desperate to bring the series back to 1-1 heading into game three, the Wolverines came out of the gate flying, generating a number of chances in the opening minutes, but Bobcats goaltender Alex Leclerc held down the fort.
Just past the midway point of the opening frame, a boarding penalty on Wolverines forward Dawson Bruneski gave the Cats the first power play of the night, which they took full advantage of.

Just 0:33 into the man advantage, Bobcats defenceman Greg Moro took a feed from Alex Pernitsky and unloaded a slap shot from the blue line, beating Wolverines goaltender Tanner McCorriston for his first AJHL goal to give the Cats a 1-0 lead. The Edmonton, AB native produced 12 goals over the course of two and a half seasons with the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, but hadn’t yet found the back of the net with the Bobcats.

Minutes later, Wolverines forward Justin Young was removed from the game after being assessed a five minute major to go with a game misconduct for a check to the head on Bobcats forward Connor Odelein. Odelein left the game for the rest of the period, but returned to the ice for the second period. Lloydminster captain Taylor Mulder was also assessed a cross-checking penalty on the play, setting up two minutes of 4-on-4 followed by a three minute power play for the Cats. The first four minutes played out without any scoring, and the Bobcats power play was cut short when Kris Spriggs was assessed a high-sticking penalty, creating another minute of 4-on-4 prior to an abbreviated Wolverines power play.

Whitecourt was unable to strike on the man advantage, and Spriggs got back onto the game sheet shortly after getting out of the penalty box.

Finding a loose puck deep in Wolverines territory, Spriggs stepped out from behind the goal line and sent a short angle shot on net, finding an opening between McCorriston’s legs to give the Cats a 2-0 lead after one.

In the second period, the Wolverines got another power play opportunity as Bobcats forward Morgan Messenger was sent off for slashing. Whitecourt failed to hit paydirt on the man advantage, and the Cats were able to catch a break as Messenger stepped out of the box and went to the bench to bring the team back to full strength. Eric Benshadle joined the play just in time to receive a breakaway pass from Kevin Darrar, beating McCorriston with a backhand move to make it 3-0 Bobcats.

After the goal, Garrett Mason replaced McCorriston in the Wolverines net as the home side looked for a spark.

Minutes later, another high hit put the Bobcats on the power play as Frederic Letourneau caught Ryan Chynoweth after the Bobcats forward released a shot on goal, sending Chynoweth to the locker room for a short time and Letourneau to the penalty box with a two minute minor for checking to the head and a ten minute misconduct. Once again, the power play was short lived as Kevin Domingue drove in towards the Bobcats goal on the penalty kill before being upended, drawing a tripping call on Moro.

The final minutes of the second would go by without any more scoring, and the Bobcats led 3-0 after forty minutes.

Facing the prospect of a 2-0 series deficit heading back to Lloydminster, the Wolverines came out flying in the third, and finally found an answer to Leclerc as Bryson Traptow broke in alone to make it a 3-1 game.

However, the Wolverines momentum was quickly stemmed as Bobcats forward Brett Smythe jammed a puck at the side of the net past Mason’s pad and into the crease, where Chynoweth knocked it in to push the Cats lead back to three goals.

After missing 12 minutes due to his checking to the head penalty, Letourneau returned to the game in the third period and didn’t take long to have an impact. Working into an open area in the high slot with 8:20 to play, Letourneau snapped a wrist shot over Leclerc’s glove, cutting the Bobcats lead back to two.

Despite a number of opportunities, including a shot off the iron with under five minutes to go, the Wolverines were unable to get closer than two, and Bobcats forward Noah Bauld put the game on ice with an empty net goal with less than two minutes to play.

Wolverines forward Elliott Peterson had an early trip to the locker room after receiving a ten minute misconduct after a post-whistle scrum shortly prior to Letourneau’s goal. Peterson got tangled up with Bobcats forward Morgan Messenger, and on the way to the penalty box had to be restrained by a linesmen to keep him away from the Bobcats bench.

Notes: Bobcats F Troy Van Tetering (lower body injury) missed his fourth consecutive game, D Christian Lloyd (upper body) missed his second straight game, and D Griffin Mumby (upper body) was also out of the lineup after an injury sustained in game one….Wolverines D Kellan Cornelis (upper body), F Linden Penner (lower body), and D Jamieson Ree  were out of the lineup as well….The Bobcats have scored a power play goal in every playoff game, going 1 for 4 tonight (6 for 21 overall)…For the second straight game, and third time in four playoff games, the Cats didn’t allow a penalty kill goal going 5 for 5 in game two (18 for 20 overall)…Alex Leclerc frustrated the Wolverines all night long, stopping 32 of 34 shots faced…Leclerc’s perfect record in the playoffs has now reached 5-0, with a save percentage of 0.925 and a Goals Against Average of 2.03…Pernitsky kept his playoff point streak intact tonight, with at least a point in all five playoff games so far (1 goal, 5 assists)…Benshadle leads all Bobcats players in playoff scoring (3rd AJHL), with eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) in five games…He also leads all players in this series with four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in two games…Brett Smythe is right behind him with three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in two games.

The series shifts back to Lloydminster for games three and four on Monday and Tuesday night at 7:30 at the Civic Centre. Get your tickets at