On a Sunday afternoon, coming off of a 5-0 victory the night before that extended the team's winning streak to five games, it may not have surprised many of the 1135 fans in attendance at the Civic Centre if the Lloydminster Bobcats had a slow start against the Calgary Mustangs. Instead, the 'Cats came out of the gate quickly and established a 4-1 lead through 20 minutes – the largest lead the team has carried into the first intermission this season – en route to an 8-4 victory.
Initially, it looked as if the Mustangs and Bobcats could get into a track meet, as the two sides combined for three goals through the opening 4:33. First, it was Evan Tschumi knocking in his second goal of the year – and second in just over ten minutes of game time going back to last night – to give the 'Cats the early lead. The Mustangs struck back quickly however, as Connor Vermeulen found himself with time and space in front of the Bobcats net, beating goaltender Pierce Diamond to level the game at one. From there, it only took the Bobcats 12 seconds to respond as Morgan Messenger scored his eighth goal of the year on former Bobcat Ryan Ternes, who was coming off of a 40 save effort in a 5-4 overtime loss last night in Bonnyville.
However, the frantic pace slowed somewhat over the next few minutes, and instead of pulling the game even again, the Mustangs found themselves on the penalty kill against a Bobcats power play unit that has moved up to the 4th best scoring rate in the AJHL. With Calgary defenceman Oliver Lester in the penalty box, Marco Ballarin deflected a Christian Lloyd one-timer past Ternes to push the Bobcats lead to 3-1. The Mustangs had a powerplay opportunity immediately after the goal, with Austin O'Rourke being called for boarding, but the 'Cats were able to kill off the penalty to preserve the two goal lead before getting another man advantage in the opening frame. This time, it was Austin Yaremchuk finding a seam through traffic for his third goal of the season, and second of the weekend, to give his team a 4-1 lead heading into the dressing room.
Although the Bobcats appeared to be well on their way to victory, it was the Mustangs who found a way to score the first goal of the second period. Just seconds after the Bobcats killed off an abbreviated 5-on-3 situation, Vermeulen put a shot on net from the point and it found a way through to once again bring the Mustangs within two. However, it wasn't enough to shift the tide of the game as the 'Cats responded with four straight goals courtesy of Ballarin, Graydon Smith, Kevin Darrar, and Troy Van Tetering before Brayden Uhrich bookended the period with a powerplay goal for the Mustangs to bring the score to 8-3 at the end of a lopsided second period.
The Mustangs added another in the third period from Mathew Popowich to cut the Bobcats lead in half, but when the final horn sounded it was the Bobcats saluting the home crowd with an 8-4 win in the books.
With Alex Leclerc on the bench for a well-earned day off, Pierce Diamond manned the Bobcats crease, stopping 13 of 17 shots. In the other crease, Ternes started the game but switched with Carter Seminuk after the fourth goal in the first period. Seminuk, like Diamond and Ternes, would give up four goals during his time between the pipes.
The Bobcats would not strike again on the powerplay after the first period, but ended a respectable 33.3% on the day. For the Mustangs, the man advantage led to a goal on two of seven opportunities.
The Bobcats next game action will be on Friday night on home ice against the South Division leading Okotoks Oilers.