It wasn't the way it was drawn up, but the Lloydminster Bobcats were able to right the ship just in time to pull out a 3-2 overtime victory over the Drayton Valley Thunder on Friday night to take a 2-0 series lead in their first round matchup of the AJHL Gas Drive Playoffs.
Scoring two third period goals to pull even, the Thunder forced the game to overtime, where both sides looked for a break to take the win. Zac Giroux had the first good chance of the overtime period for the Bobcats as he worked in tight on Drayton Valley goaltender Brett Zarowny, snapping a shot blocker side that Zarowny was able to get a piece of to keep it out of the net.
Shortly afterwards, Thunder defenceman Brodie Clowes got his stick up high on Bobcats forward Kris Spriggs, leading to the final power play of the night.
Controlling the puck in the right hand circle, Bobcats defencemen Christian Lloyd put a low shot on goal through a screen that got past Zarowny and in to seal the win for the Cats, narrowly escaping with a 2-0 series lead.
The start of the game favoured the home town Bobcats, as Kevin Darrar notched his second goal in as many games this postseason with a wicked wrist shot that snuck past the left ear of Zarowny and under the cross bar to make it 1-0 Lloydminster.
Morgan Messenger added to the lead later in the first as he broke down the left wing and drove towards the net, tossing an innocent looking backhand towards the slot that ended up banking off of Zarowny's glove and in to make it 2-0 for the home team.
After that, Zarowny locked in and didn't allow another puck through for the remainder of regulation time.
The Bobcats offensive attack slowed through the second period, but neither team was able to gain much momentum as the Cats took the two goal lead into the final stanza.
Early in the third period, the game began to turn around as Thunder forward Brayden Harris found a rebound in the crease next to Bobcats goaltender Alex Leclerc, knocking it home to cut the lead to one 0:40 into the frame. Minutes later, the Cats had a power play opportunity, but were unable to break through Zarowny, who punctuated the penalty kill with an impressive save on Nick Quillan.
From there, the Thunder continued to battle and ultimately drew even when Craig Ofner sent a wrist shot through traffic from the blue line, fooling Leclerc to make the game 2-2. Unfortunately for the Thunder, the third goal eluded them until Lloyd ended the game in overtime.
Both goaltenders were strong tonight, with Leclerc stopping 31 of 33 shots to earn his second straight win, while Zarowny turned aside 29 of 33 shots in a losing effort.
The Bobcats struck once on four power play opportunities, while Drayton Valley failed to convert on two. The statistics are somewhat skewed for each team, as both sides had a very abbreviated power play that didn't result to anything in the first period.
With a 2-0 series lead, the Bobcats will hit the road to Drayton Valley with a chance to end it in game three on Sunday night at 7:30.
Any Lloydminster fans interested in joining a fan bus to Drayton Valley, leaving from the Civic Centre at 2PM for $60 per person, are asked to call or text Kandace at 780.808.1819.