Bobcats left wing Cole Johnson carries the puck into the Wolverines zone during the second period of Lloydminster’s 3-2 win against Whitecourt at the Centennial Civic Centre on Saturday.
The Lloydminster Bobcats are learning what it takes to win.
The Bobcats (14-22-2) withstood an early onslaught and two one-goal deficits to beat the Whitecourt Wolverines 3-2 at the Centennial Civic Centre on Saturday. The victory came one night after the Orange and Black handed the Wolverines (22-10-5) a 2-1 loss in both club’s first post-Christmas match.
“The whole weekend was just a team game,” said Bobcats netminder Pierce Diamond, who stopped 33 Wolverines shots to earn the win against his former team. “We stuck to our systems well. And even when things went wrong, when they got the early power-play goal, that woke us up a bit and made us realize that we’re going to have to work harder than them to get a win tonight. That’s what we did.”
Two early Bobcats penalties allowed the Wolverines to control the play off the start, but it took a greasy goal by Noah Tooke late in the second advantage to open the scoring. The home side battled back with Rylan Nivon finding the back of Xavier Potvin’s net on a home run swing from the slot at the 15:33 mark of the first period.
The Wolverines’ Liam Motley helped his team regain the lead 2:45 into the middle frame by stealing the puck in the neutral zone before breaking down the wing for a shorthanded tally. Bobcats leading scorer Kobe Walker evened the game about 11 minutes later with a snipe to Potvin’s far side top corner.
“We knew they were going to come out hard on us in the first 10 minutes and we responded,” said Bobcats head coach and general manager Travis Clayton. “Every time they got a goal we responded. Just the character in that room is unbelievable. They’re learning to win hockey games now and it’s a lot of fun.”
Walker scored his 20th of the season 7:01 into the third period to give the Bobcats a 3-2 lead. The Wolverines pressed to even the score on three straight power plays to finish the game, but strong work by the Bobcats penalty killers including hard blocks and clears by both captain Connor Odelein and hometown product Chase Stephenson kept their opponents at bay.
“As soon as somebody blocks a shot the bench goes wild,” said Walker. “Those guys out there are playing for the guy in the box and we’re all playing for each other. Our PK was huge this weekend. I think that’s the reason we won these games.”
The Bobcats will look to build upon their three-game winning streak, counting a pre-Christmas 3-2 overtime win versus the Drayton Valley Thunder, when the club hosts the Olds Grizzlys (15-22-1) and Fort McMurray Oil Barons (26-6-3) this weekend.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re playing the top teams in the league or the bottom teams, we’ve got to play the same way every night,” said Clayton. “We’re slowly learning that. I’m just so proud of the guys for the effort the last two games and hats off to them.”