Pierce Diamond watches the play between Thunder forward Steve Senese and Bobcats defenceman Andrew Liwiski. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
A down and out Drayton Valley Thunder provided a remedy for the Lloydminster Bobcats recent ailments.
The Bobcats (3-7) ended a three-game winless skid with a 5-0 shutout over the Thunder (1-9) in front of a sparse crowd of spectators at the Centennial Civic Centre on Saturday night.
The announced crowd of 805 patrons enjoyed a chance to witness the black and orange’s recent prized acquisition between the pipes fend off an early Thunder attack before the hometown’s offence kicked into gear during the middle 25 minutes of the game.
“It’s not fancy hockey,” said Bobcats head coach and general manager Travis Clayton. “It’s get pucks in deep and go to work. We used our speed. I thought we played the game the right way tonight. We weren’t trying to beat guys one on one in the neutral zone. We weren’t turning pucks over. And for this team to be successful, we’ve got to keep it simple and go to work.”
The Thunder’s Steve Senese earned the first quality scoring opportunity five-and-a-half minutes into the game on a one-timer from the slot that Bobcats netminder Pierce Diamond squared up to.
A defensive zone giveaway forced Diamond back into action a little over a minute later and the veteran AJHL goalie proved up to the task flashing the leather on a Sam Anzai shot from the hashmarks.
Bobcats centre Zach Webb staked his team to a 1-0 lead late in the first period by corralling a Daniel Hilsendager point shot off the end boards at the side of the net and wiring the puck into an open side.
Webb made it 2-0 about three minutes into the second period, picking up a Zach Kaiser stretch pass on the wing before firing a shot top corner far side on Thunder goaltender Tyman Edelkoort from the faceoff dot.
Mike MacLean used his 6-foot-6 and 236-pound frame to score his first AJHL goal four minutes later through winning position in front of the Thunder net on the power play, and whacking in his own rebound at the top of the crease.
Bobcats defenceman Evan Wood made it 4-0 with 3:58 to play in the middle frame by one-timing an errant shot off the end boards from Kaiser into an open side.
Kobe Walker finished the scoring 45 seconds into the third period thanks to a nice centering pass from the corner by Webb.
The Bobcats shut down the Thunder attack for the remainder of the third period, with Senese earning the best chance to break the goose egg late in the game on a wraparound that slid through the crease.
“It’s huge,” said Webb. “We can’t keep losing or else that will be our path. We’ll keep getting down on ourselves, so having a good 5-0 win gives us a lot of confidence going into next week.”
Clayton said going 3-7 through the first 10 games of the season isn’t acceptable, but the boys are showing signs that they’re going in the right direction.
He said they responded well after losing 8-1 to the Bonnyville Pontiacs at home the night before, and that’s all he wanted.
“You got to take it one game at a time and prepare the right way,” said Clayton. “If we’re playing good hockey, that’s the main thing. That’s what I’m looking for. Play the game the right way and the record will take care of itself.”