With a gutsy effort, the Lloydminster Bobcats dropped the Fort McMurray Oil Barons - the top seeded team in the Viterrra AJHL North Division - by a score of 4-3 at the Centennial Civic Centre Friday night.
Austin McGrath turned aside 49 saves on 52 shots, while Rob Johnson, Zach Webb, Zach Kaiser, and Brady Barclay provided the scoring the Bobcats who continue to press for a playoff spot with a week left in the season.
After two periods, the Bobcats found themselves knotted at 3-3 despite being outshot heavily by the visiting Oil Barons. Early in the third, Brady Barclay pounced on a turnover in front of the Fort McMurray net and beat a scrambling Eric Szudor to put home the eventual game winner for the Bobcats.
McGrath shut the door the rest of the way to preserve his eleventh win of the season, stopping 49 of 52 pucks on the night.
Johnson got the Bobcats on the board first in this one, converting a 3-on-1 with Zach Webb and Chasetan Braid to put the Bobcats ahead 1-0 just 4:27 into the game.
Fort McMurray struck back later on in the period as Hayden Ursulak buried his ninth of the year with assists to Brett Edwards and Jackson McKinstry, but the Bobcats were able to pull ahead once again just moments later. Picking up a stretch pass in neutral ice from Evan Wood, Webb bore down on Szudor and fended off a pair of Oil Barons defenders to put it home and give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead.
The Oil Barons knotted up the game before the end of the period on a delayed penalty as JC Thivierge stepped into a puck at teh top of the circle and hammered it past McGrath, making it 2-2 after one period. In the second, Fort McMurray controlled the play and carried a 3-2 lead after a power play goal from Curtis Roach, but Kaiser tied the game up yet again in the final minute of the middle frame, setting the stage for Barclay's third period game winner.
With the win, the Bobcats now sit one point back of both the Grande Prairie Storm and the Drayton Valley Thunder for the final playoff spot in the North Division, with the Thunder holding two games in hand on the other two.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for Fort McMurray, and was their first regulation time defeat since late December.
Lloydminster and Fort McMurray will face off for the final time this season Saturday night at the Civic Centre at 7:30PM.
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