To extend their winning streak to five games, the Lloydminster Bobcats defeated the Bonnyville Pontiacs for the fifth time this season in a five-goal overtime thriller on Wednesday night.
The game reached a heightened level of drama late in the third period as the Bobcats went to the penalty kill while holding on to a 2-1 lead. With Connor Odelein watching from the penalty box, forwards Noah Bauld and Kevin Darrar brought the puck up ice on a shorthanded rush. Bauld carried it wide toward the boards on the right wing as he waited for Darrar to cut to the net from the left wing. Bauld then drilled a pass into the blue paint behind Pontiacs goaltender Olivier Charest to the stick of Darrar, but he was unable to get enough lumber on the puck to direct it into the net.
Moments later, the Pontiacs pushed back with time running out as Bobby McMann and Kyler Hehn worked a give and go at the side of the net, with Hehn feeding McMann who finished to make it 2-2.
Kris Spriggs came close to giving the Bobcats a 3-2 lead as he rung a shot off the iron in the dying minutes of the third, but neither team was able to break through before the end of regulation.
In the opening minute of 3-on-3 overtime, Cats defenceman Greg Moro made a strong physical play on McMann, taking him out into the boards along the Bobcats bench and freeing the puck up for Troy Van Tetering to lead the rush up ice. Alex Pernitsky jumped into the play to join him, and Van Tetering made a nice move to delay and slide the puck to Pernitsky in front of the net who redirected it between Charest's legs and in to seal a 3-2 victory for the Bobcats.
Moro and Van Tetering, who each picked up an assist on the overtime goal, connected to get the Bobcats on the board early in the first on a man advantage. Moro took a shot from the blueline that hit Van Tetering in front of the goal. The puck fell at Van Tetering's feet and he was able to find room to put it past Charest to make it 1-0 for the Cats.
The Pontiacs answered back later in the first period as McMann slide a puck backdoor for Brandon Whistle, who made no mistake in beating Bobcats goaltender Alex Leclerc to make it 1-1. The tie didn't last long, as the Bobcats were able to strike back within a minute.
Carrying the puck into the offensive zone, Bobcats forward Austin O'Rourke drove wide to the left side of the ice as Brett Smythe came in late backdoor, and O'Rourke was able to send a pass across that Smythe converted to make it 2-1 Lloydminster.
That is how the score would remain until McMann's tying goal late in the third period.
The Bobcats held a very slight shot advantage on the night, leading the Pontiacs 30-29.
The Cats were paced in scoring by Moro, Pernitsky, and Van Tetering who each had two points on the night. Goaltender Alex Leclerc stopped 27 of 29 shots to earn his 25th win of the season.
Next up for the Bobcats is a big two-game set on home ice this weekend as the Whitecourt Wolverines come to town for a second place showdown on Friday and Saturday night.