With the game on his stick, Bobcats rookie forward Connor Odelein ripped a shot past Bonnyville Pontiacs netminder Oliver Charest to give his team a hard fought 3-2 shootout win over the Pontiacs, extending the ‘Cats winning streak to eight games.
The game didn’t look like it would be heading to extra time late in the third, when Bobcats captain Taylor Mulder put the visitors ahead with 1:52 left in the game. For Mulder, the goal couldn’t have come at a better time as the 20 year-old hadn’t yet scored in 14 games so far this season. The captain pulled the monkey off of his back in fine fashion, blowing a wrist shot past the glove hand of Charest on a partial break to take the lead late in the final two minutes.
Mulder would further help his team later on, as with the Pontiacs net empty, defenceman Brinson Pasichnuk wound up to put a slap shot on net, but a sliding Mulder got his body in front of it and deflected the puck to the corner. However, the Pontiacs would hold the puck in, and Pasichnuk would again get the puck on the blue line. Having already scored from the point early in the second, Pasichnuk got a pair of Bobcats to drop as he wound up for a slap shot, then found a lane to get the puck to his brother Steenn at the back door, who finished the play to tie the game with 0:13 to play.
In the ensuing 3-on-3 overtime, both teams were able to generate several quality chances as time wound down, but nobody was able to put the game away. Late in the overtime period, ‘Cats forward Noah Bauld undressed a pair of Pontiacs to get alone on Charest, and finished the play with a beautiful move to get Charest down and out before directing the puck toward what looked like an empty net. However, Charest would stretch his glove hand out in a last ditch effort, snagging Bauld’s shot before it crossed the goal line to keep the game even, forcing a shootout.
Alden Dupuis stepped up as the first Pontiacs shooter, and was turned aside by Leclerc, giving Bauld the opportunity to put the ‘Cats ahead. After losing the puck briefly in the slot, Bauld recovered and faked out Charest before going upstairs this time out of reach of Charest’s glove. Down a goal, Kyler Hehn stepped in for the Pontiacs and got the puck past Leclerc. Kevin Darrar had an opportunity to put the ‘Cats ahead, but put his backhand shot over the crossbar to leave the shootout even through two rounds. With a chance to take the lead, the Pontiacs sent Captain Steenn Pasichnuk up, but he was stoned by Leclerc, setting the stage for Odelein, who delivered the winning strike for the ‘Cats.
For Leclerc, it was the first time he didn’t finish a game with a regulation win, but with the shootout victory pushed his record to 10-0-0 as Bobcats starter. Leclerc made 34 saves on 36 Pontiacs shots, and turned aside two of three shooters in the shootout. In the Bonnyville crease, Olivier Charest made 30 saves on 32 shots, with one stop on three shots in the shootout.
The Pontiacs were able to strike once on the powerplay, with Brinson Pasichnuk drilling a one-timer that banked in off of 'Cats defenceman Graydon Smith on a 5-on-3 advantage early in the second. Over the course of the game, the Bonnyville power play went 1-for-3.
For the Bobcats, they were only given one man-advantage situation, early in the first period, and failed to break through. Trailing 1-0 after Pasichnuk’s power play goal in the second, Troy Van Tetering drew the game back to even with a beautiful breakaway goal just past the midway point of the match.
With the win, the Bobcats move within two points of first-place Spruce Grove at 16-2, and have one game in hand. The ‘Cats schedule resumes this weekend with a two-game home stand against the Grande Prairie Storm on Friday and Saturday, with both games starting at 7:30PM.