Arriving in Style

Third Period Charge Delivers Bobcats Win to Open 2015
 
CLOQUET, MN – Staring down a deficit at the second intermission for the 15th time this season, the Bismarck Bobcats submitted a three-goal surge in the final 20 minutes of regulation to edge the Minnesota Wilderness 3-2 Friday at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
 
Down 1-0 to start the third period, the Cats quickly evened the score at the 15:40 mark on the forecheck as center J.M. Piotrowski dove to his left to twist home a Tony German rebound for his seventh tally of the year.
 
Minnesota answered back with 7:06 remaining on a broken play when a centering pass was deflected to winger Dan Litchke, who bombed a low snap shot past the blocker of Bobcat goalie Hunter Shepard to push the Wilderness back to a one-goal edge at 2-1.
 
Choppy ice—a source of numerous turnovers for both teams Friday—gave the Bobcats a window to equalize just 56 seconds later when Alex Strand intercepted a misfired breakout pass just seven feet from the Minnesota net and one-timed the puck under the blocker of Wilderness netminder Ryan Anderson, knotting the game at two.
 
The visiting Bobcats took their first lead of the night with 2:48 left in the game thanks to a late 5-on-3 power play that saw the Cats’ co-captains connect when Evan Giesler made a point-blank redirect of a 40-footer from Cullen Willox that eluded Anderson’s glove and pushed the score to 3-2.
 
Following Giesler’s division-leading  19th strike, the Bobcat defense locked down: allowing just two shots to get through to Shepard—including none in the final 41 seconds despite three consecutive offensive zone faceoffs for the Wilderness—to preserve the 3-2 victory.
 
Though Shepard and Anderson combined for 16 saves in a scoreless first, the biggest story of the opening stanza came 6:22 into the game when the Bobcats killed off 1:41 of 5-on-3 power play time without allowing a single shot on goal despite the extended two-man disadvantage.
 
Minnesota scored the only goal of the second when Billy Exell ripped a wrister off Shepard’s glove and in, giving the Canadian center four straight games with a goal.
 
Shepard, who grew up 70 miles from Cloquet in Grand Rapids, Minn., dazzled with 31 saves to secure his fifth win in his last seven starts. Anderson suffered his first regulation loss since November 5 despite 20 stops.
 
With Friday’s comeback, the “Cardiac Cats” now have five wins when trailing after the second period, the second-highest total in the NAHL behind the Soo Eagles’ seven.
 
The Bobcats and Wilderness will reconvene Saturday for a 7:05pm rematch.
 
Live coverage of Saturday’s weekend finale will begin at 6:40pm 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 has passed the half-way mark, there is still time to order season tickets for the year; fans who want to lock in their seats for the entire campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!