In a game that featured two of the top three penalty killing teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and two teams that fell in the bottom half of the league on the powerplay, it was fitting that special teams would be a major factor in the Lloydminster Bobcats 2-1 overtime victory over the Whitecourt Wolverines tonight.
The Bobcats penalty kill came into tonight’s game allowing a league-low one goal on 23 powerplay opportunities against so far this season. The Wolverines were close behind, giving up just two goals on shorthanded scenarios prior to tonight.
Late in the third period, with the Bobcats holding onto a 1-0 lead, the Wolverines had a three minute powerplay opportunity with a major for fighting and an instigator minor being given out to Lloydminster’s Marco Ballarin and a double minor penalty to Bryce Gervais of the Wolverines. With two of the minors offsetting, the Wolverines returned to full strength after two minutes, and were able to get a puck past Bobcats goaltender Pierce Diamond on a tip play in front of the net just 0:25 into the powerplay.
The Wolverines are now the only team that has scored against the Bobcats on the powerplay, doing so once in each of the two games between the teams.
The Bobcats were able to kill off the remainder of Ballarin’s major penalty, and minutes later would get a powerplay opportunity with the game tied 1-1 with 1:27 remaining in the third period. Coming into this, the ‘Cats were 0 for 3 on the powerplay in the game. The final 1:27 would pass by without consequence, giving the Bobcats the man advantage for the first 33 seconds of overtime.
This would be enough time for the Bobcats to set up in the offensive zone, and just as the teams returned to even strength, Alex Pernitsky drilled a one-time shot off of a pass from Christian Lloyd, and Morgan Messenger managed to deflect it past the goaltender Tanner McCorriston to give the ‘Cats the 2-1 victory, and their sixth straight win to open the season.
Bobcats leading point producer Kevin Darrar chipped in early in the second to get the Bobcats on the board, as he was sprung for a breakaway by teammate Noah Bauld and made no mistake in beating McCorriston blocker side.
Later in the second, ‘Cats goaltender Alex Leclerc was assessed a match penalty, resulting in a five minute major and a game misconduct after a play on Wolverines forward Taden Rattie in front of the Lloydminster net. It was initially undetected, but at the following stoppage of play, the officials gathered for a discussion and decided to make the call on Leclerc.
The Bobcats would kill of the full five minute major to preserve the 1-0 lead into the third period. Up until the penalty, Leclerc had stopped all 13 shots directed his way. Pierce Diamond came off the bench and had a strong performance over 24:44 for the ‘Cats, stopping 8 of 9 shots.
On the night, the Bobcats powerplay was officially 0 for 4, with the overtime goal coming just one second after the expiry of the penalty to Kevin Domingue. The Wolverines struck once on the powerplay in 5 opportunities, with two being majors.
The Bobcats take their winning streak into Grande Prairie for a matchup with the Storm tomorrow night at 7:30.