Bobcats forwards Jayven Leslie, #10, Reid Mackay, #14, and Matthew Swanson, #18, fight for a loose puck in front of the Red Wings net. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
The Lloydminster Fountain Tire bantam AAA Bobcats refused to back down against the Camrose Red Wings.
The Bobcats (2-7-2) overcame an early 2-0 deficit and late 4-3 disadvantage to tie the Red Wings 4-4 at the Servus Sports Centre on Saturday.
Special teams made the difference in the contest with the Red Wings (2-9-1) scoring three of their goals on the powerplay, and the Bobcats notching the final tying marker while shorthanded.
“Their special teams beat our special teams,” said Bobcats head coach Curtis Johnson.
“We didn’t score one powerplay (goal) and they scored three. It was the little things. Two of (their goals) were bomb shots from the point that had seeing eyes, but our guys have to block those shots. Our defence have got to clear the net in front.”
Red Wings forward Connor Hannay opened the scoring 10:22 into the first period on one of those bombs from the point while his team enjoyed a man advantage opportunity.
Sam Popowich made it 2-0 on the powerplay about four minutes later by one-timing a Blake Sitler pass in front past Bobcats goalie Lowen Kenvon.
The few calls early against the Bobcats, as well as a ruled no-goal on a Luke Wennekamp wraparound due to the net being off its moorings, seemed to divert the home side from their initial plan of attack as the group began arguing with the referee.
That display of emotion led to the Red Wings second powerplay goal.
“It’s better to have emotion than not to have any to be honest,” said Johnson.
“We just have to control our sticks. We want to play a physical game and set the tone off the bat and that’s what we need to do. But, we have to do it within the boundaries of the rules.”
Bobcats left wing Matthew Swanson got his team back to within one 30 seconds after the second marker on a tap-in that beat Red Wings netminder Evan LaClare low glove side. Reid Mackay scored the tying goal with 2:30 left in the first period by waiting for LaClare to go down before firing the puck into a top corner.
Defenceman Mazden Leslie helped his team to a 3-2 lead 6:52 into the second period by wiring a shot through traffic from the point.
Red Wings’ D.J. Zadunayski replied about four-and-a-half minutes later to tie the contest, while Sitler notched the go-ahead marker with 1:41 left in the second on another bomb down the middle.
Bobcats centre Chase Renton completed a nice two-on-one break with Jayden Plamondon while shorthanded to tie the game 13:08 into the third period.
Both teams applied pressure to get the winner late, with Bobcats captain Jayven Leslie earning the best chance on a shot from the hashmarks that LaClare gobbled up.
“We worked hard,” said Johnson. “We tied it up. It was a shorthanded goal and it was nice work ethic to get that. But, it’s one that we should have got two points.”