Bobcats right wing Cole Johnson drives down the wing during the second period of Lloydminster’s 4-1 win against the Drumheller Dragons at the Centennial Civic Centre on Sunday afternoon. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
Tired dragons are no match for a pack of hungry bobcats.
The Lloydminster Bobcats (11-20-2) used a full-game press to beat the Drumheller Dragons 4-1 at the Centennial Civic Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The win got the Bobcats back on track after the club dropped a pair of games to their Viterra AJHL North Division rival Fort McMurray Oil Barons (24-4-2) and Sherwood Park Crusaders (14-16-2) at the start of the weekend.
“We had the effort on Thursday night in Fort Mac,” said Bobcats head coach and general manager Travis Clayton. “But I was a little disappointed in the effort on Friday night against Sherwood Park. I thought we played for maybe 20 minutes, and in this league that’s not good enough. The boys responded with a heck of an effort today. They played a full 60 minutes.”
Bobcats centre Zach Kaiser started the feast 1:30 into the first period by picking up a steal in the neutral zone for a break down the middle, only to be stymied by Dragons goalie Dane Dow’s pad.
Nick Sanders and his posts proved up to the challenge later in the frame when the latter made a huge stop on Dragons forward Tyler Kreklewich shortly before the former stoned Brett Edwards and Brady Risk on a shot and rebound opportunity.
Lloydminster’s Daniel Hilsendager provided a touch of offence from the blue line five minutes into the second frame on a blast from the point that rebounded to an open Tyler Lowe at the bottom of the circle where he met Dow for the kick out.
Hilsendager fired the puck past Dow low glove side on his next attempt at the 5:59 mark.
The Bobcats rear guard made it 2-0 about seven-and-a-half minutes later thanks to a cross-crease pass from Rylan Nivon on a concentrated drive to the Dragons net.
Leyson Coleman potted his first AJHL marker 2:56 into the third period to give the black and orange a 3-0 lead.
“It was just a good chip up the corner,” said Coleman. “I was already heading up the ice and managed to break in. It fumbled on me at the start and I figured I’d just take a shot.”
Kaiser whacked in the Bobcats fourth goal at the 8:27 mark of the final frame on a scramble in front of Dow’s net.
Dragons defenceman Troy Dudley attempted to make up for the score about three minutes later, only to find Sanders post once again.
The Bobcats netminder then flashed the leather on a Bradley Stonnell wire down the middle, breaking out chants of ‘The Colonel’ among the team’s brethren lining the stands.
Dragons forward Tyson Scott finally broke the shutout with 1:20 left to play by jamming in a rebound from the side of Sanders crease.
“We wanted to be puck responsible,” said Clayton. “We wanted to make sure if they were going to score on us they would have to go two on three. We don’t want to turn pucks over at the blue line and make it easy for them. We want to make it hard on them all day and I thought we were very good with our puck management.”
Coleman said they played physical and sacrificed the body in an effort to gain an edge against the road-weary Dragons (17-14-2), which entered the contest on a three games in three days northern swing.
He noted they’ll need a similar effort this weekend when the Bobcats head out for games versus the Olds Grizzlys (12-20-1) and Canmore Eagles (14-17-2).
“It’s just play the same way,” said Coleman. “The systems have been working lately. So, I feel like the past seven or eight games we’ve been playing the way the coaches want and it’s working out.”