The Lloydminster Bobcats used grit and determination to rise above a few tough obstacles placed in their way this past weekend.
The Bobcats (16-27-2) entered a hostile Revolution Arena on Saturday night for a date with the Grande Prairie Storm (21-20-3) short a couple of key players due to injury and external issues.
The club also started the contest a little less than 24 hours after getting blown out 8-0 in Whitecourt by the Wolverines (28-12-5).
“We responded the way I wanted,” said Bobcats head coach and general manager Travis Clayton. “We just came up on the short end, but if we play like that on the road on a nightly basis we’ll eventually get rewarded.”
It took a late third-period goal by Jared Power for the Storm to finally go ahead for good in the 5-3 win. Bobcats’ Zach Kaiser, with the club’s first away goal in 228 minutes, and Tucker Scantlebury exchanged markers with Cruz Cote and Sean Thomson in the first period.
The Storm’s Zachary Okabe scored the 3-2 goal 15:05 into the second period, but Daniel Hilsendager provided a reply on the power play late to tie the contest as it sped into the final frame.
The Bobcats had a few more chances to even the score with the man advantage in the third only to fall a bit short.
Clayton said they had good entries, moved the puck around and got a lot of shots to the net on their power play.
He said the man advantage allowed them to gain and hold the momentum thanks to the chances generated.
Bobcats netminder Pierce Diamond made 22 saves in Grande Prairie after getting pulled early in the second period against the Wolverines. Affiliated player Jacob Bennett, a call-up from the Alberta Midget Hockey League’s Fort Saskatchewan Rangers, saw his first regular-season game action in relief.
“Both goalies that night were hung out to dry and I wanted to save Pierce for Saturday night,” said Clayton.
“I thought Jacob Bennett, for being a midget-age tender, stepped in and played really well for us.”
Clayton noted Bailey Brkin, whose rights the club acquired from the Brooks Bandits for future considerations at the AJHL trade deadline earlier this month, was released to the Bobcats on Sunday and will be in the lineup to push Diamond for time in the crease this week. He said the club is also expecting to have captain Connor Odelein, who sat out against Whitecourt and Grande Prairie with a lower body injury, and centre Braydon Jenkins, absent due to family issues, back in time for this Saturday’s home game against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (32-7-3).
“We’re slowly getting back,” said Clayton. “It will be nice to have a full 20 guys in our lineup to see what we got.”