For the first time this season, the Lloydminster Bobcats found themselves trailing in a game, but that wasn’t enough to stop the winning streak as the ‘Cats came back from an early 1-0 deficit and earned a 5-2 win over the Grande Prairie Storm.
Bobcats rookie Connor Odelein was the story of the night, picking up his first AJHL goal with just under five minutes to play in the first period, intercepting a clearing pass by Storm defencemen Frank Sullivan and driving towards the net before beating the net minder Tallon Kramer glove side to tie the game 1-1. Odelein wouldn’t stay at one career goal for long, as just 45 seconds into the second frame, the winger jumped on a rebound in the slot and tucked it into the open cage on the powerplay to give the ‘Cats a 2-1 lead.
Getting his second start of the season for the Bobcats was Pierce Diamond, playing in place of the suspended Alex Leclerc, and Diamond was solid in the win with 18 saves on 20 shots.
The Storm would tie it up just past the midway point of the second period as Ian McLellan found a loose puck in the crease, after a deflection that found its way past Diamond before hitting the post and settling in the blue paint until the Storm forward could knock it in.
However, less than two minutes later, Zac Giroux set up in front of Kramer and got his stick on a shot from the blue line by Evan Tschumi, beating the goaltender to regain the lead for Lloydminster.
Late in the second period, Storm forward Josh Zablocki finished a hard check on Christian Lloyd behind the Bobcats net, receiving a boarding call on the play. Before the Storm touched the puck to stop the play, Cole Josefchak came rushing in to defend his teammate, and the two squared off for a spirited tilt that saw several punches landed each way.
Early in the third period, with the Bobcats hanging on to a 3-2 lead, Grande Prairie set up a backdoor one timer on the power play, but the shot from Landon Vollman carried high into the glass and left the zone, finding Taylor Allan who had just finished serving a high sticking penalty. Allan picked up the puck just outside the Storm blue line, and with a clear lane to the net put a wrist shot over the glove of Kramer to extend the lead to 4-2, and swing the momentum in the Bobcats favour.
Later in the third, Josh Giacomin would add another insurance goal for the ‘Cats, picking up a bank pass from Allan before beating the defender and getting the puck over Kramer and barely across the line before the net minder could grab it.
This would be the final dagger of the night, as when the clock ran out, the Bobcats had earned a 5-2 victory over the Storm.
On special teams, the Bobcats were able to capitalize once on the power play out of two opportunities. The Storm performed at the same rate, going one for two.
With the victory, the stage is now set for a matchup between the last two undefeated teams in the AJHL when the Spruce Grove Saints come to Lloydminster on Tuesday night.
Bobcats goaltender Alex Leclerc, who was out of the lineup tonight due to a suspension stemming from a kicking incident on Friday night in Whitecourt, is not expected to be eligible for Tuesday’s game.