Special teams key in Bobcats win

By Jamie Harkins

February 7, 2018 2:05 PM

A late season break may have been just what the Lloydminster Bobcats ordered.
The Bobcats beat the rival Bonnyville Pontiacs 3-1 at RJ Lalonde Arena on Saturday night. The win was the team’s fourth straight with the previous three coming seven, eight and 10 days earlier.
“We came out good,” said Travis Clayton, head coach and general manager of the Bobcats. “Bonnyville is not an easy team to play against. They’re big and physical and they play really well at home. I thought we came out really well. It was a big road win for us.”
Bobcats centre Rylan Nivon opened the scoring at the 7:23 mark of the first period with his team skating shorthanded, while defenceman Daniel Hilsendager notched the winner on the power play 1:01 into the final frame.
Bailey Brkin got his third win in as many games between the pipes for the Bobcats by making 35 saves.
Clayton noted most of those shots against came from the outside, which is where they were trying to force the Pontiacs. He said the boys then went to work on special teams to generate their own opportunities.
“Our penalty kill has stepped it up a notch,” he said. “Our power play has done well as of late especially at home, and it was nice to carry it over onto the road. I always say special teams play a big key in winning games, and right now we’re winning special teams battles.”
The Bobcats (20-27-2) win against the Pontiacs (16-27-7) marked the club’s first of only two contests in a span of almost two weeks.
That rest comes at a welcome time for the team, which will start a final 10 games in 24 days drive to the AJHL playoffs against the Brooks Bandits (37-11-1) at the Centennial Civic Centre on Friday.
Clayton said the down time arrived at the right moment because it helps a few guys get over some bumps and bruises, as well as give the coaching staff a chance to bring in some systems work.
He said they don’t get a ton of time to practice during the season, so this week coupled with the recent successes on ice should prove helpful as the club heads into the stretch drive.
“We can compete with any team in the league if we come and play our way,” said Clayton. “Hats off to the boys (because) they’re competing and having fun and they’re starting to believe.”

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