…And Then There were Two

Bobcats Steal Point, Edge Closer to Playoffs
 
BISMARCK, ND – Despite falling 4-3 Thursday to the Aberdeen Wings, the Bismarck Bobcats rallied late to force overtime and eventually a shootout and bring their magic number for clinching a playoff spot down to two points in the Central Division chase.
 
Facing down a 3-2 deficit through two periods, the Bobcat defense kept the contest close as the black and gold held Aberdeen to just one shot in the entire third period—setting a new season-best for shots allowed in a period.
 
With goalie Hunter Shepard pulled in the final minute and a half of regulation, the Bobcats notched their first extra-attacker equalizer of the season with 32 seconds left as Tanner Salsberry beamed a low slap shot through traffic that deflected in under the crossbar to tie the game 3-3 and send the contest to overtime.
 
In the extra frame, the Bobcats outshot the Wings 5-1, but could not hit the net on their best opportunities, necessitating a shootout.
 
Of the 10 shooters to get a chance in the shootout, only Aberdeen’s Michael Soucier scored—in the fifth round—to hand the Wings the 4-3 overtime win.
 
It was the Wings who struck first Thursday, as veteran winger Bjorn Sigurdarson cashed in a Bobcat turnover past Shepard’s glove in traffic just 1:28 into the game for a fast lead for the visitors at 1-0.
 
The Bobcats battled right back, with a power play goal from Oskars Batna and an even-strength snipe by Willie Brown to snare a 2-1 lead after one.
 
Aberdeen captain Kyle Haak took over the game in the second, tallying a shorthanded goal and a power play goal in a five-minute span to pull the Wings right back in front at 3-2 through two.
 
Shepard submitted 15 saves in his first shootout loss of the season; Wings netminder Luke Kania turned aside 43 Bobcat attempts in regulation and OT plus all five Bobcat shootout offerings for his first win of the season.
 
Thanks to a 7-2-3 mark against the rival Wings, the Bobcats reclaimed the Titan Machinery Dakota Cup in 2014-15.
 
Thursday was also St. Baldrick’s Night for the Cats; all 23 Bobcat players shaved their heads and auctioned their game-worn jerseys to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and its fight against childhood cancer. In all, the jersey auction raised $7,200, pushing the Cats’ six-year total close to $60,000 in jersey funds raised for St. Baldrick’s.
 
Now the Bobcats turn their attention to the defending Robertson Cup champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs, who they will face Friday and Saturday at the VFW Sports Center to wrap up their season-high seven-game home stand.
 
Tickets are now on sale for Friday’s interdivision opener: fans can buy and print tickets 24 hours a day online at BismarckBobcats.com or charge by phone at 222-3300.
 
Live coverage of the Cats’ Friday battle with Fairbanks will start at 6:45pm locally on SuperTalk 1270, KLXX-AM, the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, and worldwide online at NAHL.FASTHockey.com, the official web television partner of the North American Hockey League.
 
Though the 2014-15 season is entering its home stretch, pro-rated season tickets are still available for the last run of home games; fans who want to lock in their seats for the remainder of the campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!