What took 11 games to build only took 2:20 to destroy, as the Bobcats gave up four goals in short sequence during the second period en route to a 5-1 loss to the Sherwood Park Crusaders, ending the 'Cats franchise-record 11-game winning streak.
“We got exactly what we deserved,” said Bobcats Coach Gord Thibodeau postgame. “We got outplayed, I didn't think our work ethic was very good…in fact I thought it was really poor, I thought our decision making was extremely poor. We just didn't have a lot of jump, so (we were) fully deserving of the loss.”
PHOTO: FIVEPENNY PHOTOS
After going 0-for-3 on the powerplay in the first period, the 'Cats found themselves shorthanded three times during the second. The first time, after an Evan Tschumi interference penalty, the Bobcats were able to kill it off and keep the game level. The next time, they wouldn't be so lucky as Alex Pernitsky was assessed a two minute minor and a game misconduct for checking from behind.
With Pernitsky off to the dressing room just over midway through his first game back from injury since October 7th, the Crusaders only took 0:21 to convert as Cole Chorney beat Alex Leclerc with a wrist shot to put Sherwood Park ahead. This was the first time since the 'Cats October 2nd loss to Brooks – the team's last loss prior to the winning streak – that Lloydminster was unable to score the first goal. Just like that game at the AJHL Showcase, the 'Cats would fail to recover.
Over the course of the next 2:20, the Crusaders would bump their lead to 4-0. First it was Devon McAndrews beating Leclerc 0:28 after Chorney's opening goal, followed 0:08 later by a goal from defenceman Chris McKay. The Bobcats soon found themselves on the penalty kill again as Taylor Mulder slashed the stick of Darcy Zaharichuk on a scoring opportunity in front of the 'Cats goal. It only took the Crusaders powerplay 0:21 to strike again, stretching their lead to 4-0 just past the midway point of the game.
After that explosive period, Sherwood Park took the 4-0 lead into the locker room and set their sights on closing off the final twenty minutes against the streaking Bobcats.
The visitors were able to keep up their strong defensive play throughout the third period, rarely allowing the Bobcats to touch the puck near the net. Late in the period, with Austin O'Rourke in the penalty box, the Crusaders would add their third powerplay goal of the night courtesy of Ryan Kruper to stretch the lead to 5-0.
With Crusaders netminder Zac Klassen nearing his second shutout of the season, Christian Lloyd broke the ice for the Bobcats with a wrist shot that deflected off of a Sherwood Park defender to make it 5-1, but that's as close as the game would get.
Final shots on goal were 26-24 in favour of the Crusaders, with Leclerc suffering the first loss of his AJHL career in his 14th game.
Special teams was reflective of the final score, with the Crusaders going 3-for-5 on the powerplay, while the Bobcats ended the night 0-for-4.
The Bobcats return to action at the Civic Centre tomorrow night with a 7:30 showdown against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.