A pair of streaks lived on tonight, as Troy Van Tetering broke the ice late in the first period with a shorthanded marker that would stand as the game-winning goal for the Lloydminster Bobcats in a 2-0 defeat of the Drumheller Dragons.
Van Tetering came into tonight’s game on a three-game scoring streak, but before he could extend it, his team came under fire in the opening minutes of the game. The Dragons came out fast and physical against the first-place Bobcats, and showed that they were hungry for a win. Through the first half of the first period, the Dragons were able to win battles in all areas of the ice and generate quality scoring chances, but continued to be stymied by Bobcats goaltender Alex Leclerc, and in one instance, the cross bar behind him.
PHOTO: FIVEPENNY PHOTOS
Despite giving up a couple scoring chances, the ‘Cats were able to bend but not break as they killed off a Taylor Mulder penalty midway through the first period. Finding themselves behind 13-3 on the shot clock, the Bobcats seemed to get a lift when they returned to even strength. Minutes later, the momentum appeared to be stymied as the ‘Cats went shorthanded again as Marco Ballarin was called for hooking. However, the opposite was true.
Off of a defensive zone faceoff to open the ensuing penalty kill, Evan Tschumi pounced on a loose puck and led a 2-on-1 rush up ice, getting a good shot away that was stopped by Drumheller goaltender Jonny Hogue. Moments after the ensuing draw, Van Tetering forced a turnover at the Dragons blue line and went in alone on Hogue, sliding the puck by him to give the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead, which they would carry into the first intermission. Van Tetering's sixth goal of the season pushed his goal-scoring streak to four games. After falling behind 13-3 in shots, the tally ended up 15-8 at the break.
The Bobcats ran into penalty trouble again early in the second, but would once again kill it off, allowing the Dragons very little in the way of offence. A minute and a half after Brendan Kallis returned to the ice to bring the teams back to even strength, Taylor Lotoski and Connor Odelein entered the Dragons zone on a 2-on-1, and Odelein knocked in a rebound off of Lotoski's shot, putting the ‘Cats up 2-0 with the rookie’s third goal of the year.
From there, the ‘Cats continued to pressure the Dragons and ground out the clock with a strong effort on the road, limiting scoring chances against. On the odd occasion where the Dragons broke through the ‘Cats defence, Leclerc was dialed in to make the saves when necessary. For Leclerc, the victory pushed his record to 12-0 since coming to Lloydminster, and along the way picked up his third shutout of the season.
For Drumheller, Jonny Hogue turned aside 31 of 33 shots in the loss.
The defensive effort from the Bobcats was even more impressive considering both Alex Pernitsky and Nick Quillan were out of the lineup with injuries tonight, necessitating the call up of affiliated player Brendon Borbely, who looked comfortable in his first career AJHL game.
Special teams continued to be a strength for the Bobcats tonight, as they killed off all five Dragons power plays. On the man advantage, the ‘Cats were 0-for-2, with one of them being an extended three minute man advantage, stemming from a five minute kneeing major to Dragons defenceman Andrew Kartusch after he collided with Taylor Allan in the third period.
The Bobcats have now extended their winning streak to eleven games, and remain two points ahead of Spruce Grove for first place in the AJHL, with one game in hand.
This weekend, the ‘Cats return to home ice for matchups on Friday and Saturday against the Sherwood Park Crusaders and the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, with each game starting at 7:30PM. All fans coming to the rink are asked to bring new or lightly used winter clothing to support WPD Ambulance’s Fill the Ambulance campaign ahead of the holiday season.