Coming into tonight’s game as one of the hottest teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, the Whitecourt Wolverines kept things rolling with a convincing 5-1 victory over the Lloydminster Bobcats tonight.
The start was promising for the visitors, as Zac Giroux took advantage of a turnover less than two minutes into the game, beating Wolverines goaltender Joshua Dechaine to make it 1-0. The Bobcats continued to play with intensity in the early part of the period, dictating the physical play, but the flow of the game slowly began to switch directions.
After applying more and more pressure, the Wolverines were finally able to pull even at the 13:50 mark of the period when Justin Young gathered a loose puck at the side of the net and tucked it inside the post, just out of the reach of Bobcats goaltender Alex Leclerc who had been knocked out of position.
Minutes later, Frederic Letourneau was able to get lost in the offensive zone before showing up in scoring position just in time to receive a feed from winger Kevin Domingue, putting a one-timer past Leclerc to make it 2-1. The Bobcats would head into the dressing room down by one, but things got bleaker early in the second.
Just as Giroux had got the ‘Cats on the board early in the first, Hubert Delisle returned the favour for the Wolverines as he found a loose puck near the Bobcats net and finished it off to give his team a 3-1 lead before the Bobcats had a chance to push back. The second period would continue to be controlled by the Wolverines, as they weren’t done offensively.
Just past the midway point of the period, Erik Pedersen converted a tic tac toe passing play from line mates Bryson Traptow and Eric Krienke to push the lead to 4-1, and before the period was over, Justin Young would break in alone shorthanded to score the final goal of the night. For the Bobcats, it was the first time all season that an opponent had scored a shorthanded goal.
In the third, Pierce Diamond came into the net in relief of Leclerc, and stopped all seven shots he faced as the Wolverines finished off the game that they largely controlled from start to finish.
A scary incident occurred early in the third period as Wolverines forward Dondre Watson caught Connor Odelein with a blindside hit that sent him crashing into the boards. Watson would be issued a boarding penalty, and a pair of coincidental roughing minors were handed out to Dawson Bruneski and Bobcats captain Taylor Mulder, but Odelein would not return to the game.
The Bobcats were forced to get creative with their lines throughout the night as they came into the game with nine forwards, and after losing Taylor Allan and Austin O’Rourke, as well as Odelein late in the game, were down to six regular forwards and a handful of defencemen that spent time up front.
Both teams came into tonight’s game on dry spells with the man advantage, and that continued both ways tonight as the Wolverines went 0-for-3, while the Bobcats were 0-for-6. The shorthanded goal by Young was the lone goal scored on any power play all game.
It’s a quick turnaround as both teams will be back at it tomorrow night in Whitecourt at 7:30.