LLOYDMINSTER, SK (February 27, 2016) – For just the second time all season, the Brooks Bandits (46-9-2) lost two consecutive games in regulation, falling to the Lloydminster Bobcats 5-2 at the Centennial Civic Centre on Saturday night.
The Bobcats were awarded the first 6 consecutive power plays of the game, and 10 of the 13 total man advantages in the game, riding a 32-12 shot advantage after the first two periods to a convincing win, the team’s first against Brooks this season in the three-game season series.
The home team opened the scoring on its first shot of the game, when a cross-ice pass from Morgan Messenger on the rush found former Drumheller Dragon Ryan Chynoweth at the left-wing faceoff circle, whose quick low shot beat Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB) to give Lloydminster a lead it would never relinquish.
As the power plays for the Bobcats continued in the second, the team converted twice more; the first a Kevin Darrar shot through a screen at the 8:50 mark, and the second a Brett Smythe slot shot at 10:33.
After that third Lloydminster goal, Bandit forward Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) dropped the gloves and fought Connor Odelein of the Bobcats in a spirited tilt spurred by a slash by Prkusic on Lloydminster’s goalie, Alex Leclerc. Though no penalty was indicated prior to the fight, Prkusic was assessed a slashing penalty after the fact, with no instigator assessed to Lloydminster, giving the Bobcats another power play.
But on the ensuing faceoff, Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON) rushed up ice and scored a shorthanded breakaway goal to give the Bandits some life. It was the team’s league-leading 11th shorthanded goal of the season.
But the momentum of the goal quickly dissipated when an Eric Benshadle shot from the right circle found the back of the Bandit net at the 17:29 mark to reclaim a 3-goal advantage for the Bobcats after two.
In the third, the Bandits drew closer with a Logan Mick (Vernon, B.C.) shot through a screen at the 8:08 mark to narrow the gap to two. But the Bobcats iced it with a Troy Van Tetering empty net goal with 58 seconds left to capture the vital win.
Though the Bandits won the third period shot battle 15-9, the Bobcats outshot the Bandits 43-27 in the game, going 2 for 10 on their power play while the Bandits went 0 for 3.
The Bandits are no longer mathematically able to capture first overall in the AJHL, but have clinched second and will have home ice advantage in all divisional rounds of the playoffs.
Brooks will travel to Strathmore on Tuesday night to take on the Calgary Mustangs as the visiting team in an off-site home affair for Calgary. Puck drop at the Strathmore Arena is 7:30 PM, with pre-game coverage beginning at 7:15 on Q105.7.