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Huge Second Carries Bobcats to 5-1 Win, Road Sweep
 
AUSTIN, MN – Scoreless after one, the Bismarck Bobcats exploded for five goals in the second period Saturday to cruise to a 5-1 victory over the Austin Bruins—completing a two-game weekend sweep at Riverside Arena.
 
Breaking the scoreless tie 4:44 into the middle frame was deadline acquisition Chase Hartje, playing in his first junior game, who took a cross-ice pass from Cooper Haar and picked the top corner over the glove of Austin netminder Jake Kucharski for a 1-0 Bobcat advantage.
 
A mere 65 seconds later, Tristan Ashbrook doubled the lead to 2-0: pulling a feed from Jiei Halliday off the left-wing boards and patiently maneuvering into the low slot before burying his 10th goal of the year off the cross bar and in.
 
Slovakia-born center Matej Murin kept the scoring going for the visitors with 10:08 to go in the stanza, finishing off a forecheck by Nick Alexander and Zach Kennedy from close range on a one-time snap shot that rolled over the right leg pad of Kucharski, chasing the Bruins’ starting keeper from the game with a 3-0 score.
 
Bobcat goalie Severi Isokangas provided a major turning point in the game at the 6:14 mark of the second, fighting through contact by an Austin forward and stretching out for a behind-the-back, backhanded glove save on a 50-footer from Kyle Looft to preserve the three-goal margin.
 
That save triggered another mini rally, starting 42 seconds later when—from his knees—Ashbrook managed to whip a centering pass from the right-wing wall to a streaking Kennedy for a back-door one-timer to pad the Cats’ cushion to 4-0.
 
Just 18 seconds after Kennedy’s marker, Matt Barry put a cap on the five-goal outburst with a redirect of a long-range Halliday slap shot that snuck inside the right post past replacement backstop Alex Schilling. Initially waving the goal off, referee Brodie Cundy consulted with his linesmen and the goal judge and awarded Barry his 19th tally for a 5-0 score after two.
 
Austin got on the board 5:23 into the third, notching a shorthanded goal on the rush from Evan Cholak to spoil Isokangas’ shutout bid and trim the Cats’ lead to 5-1.
 
Following Cholak’s score, the Bruins pressed in the Bobcat end for a handful of shifts but a stout shotblocking effort helped the Cats steady themselves and regain control and close out the 5-1 victory.
 
Isokangas finished with 27 stops on 28 shots to pick up his 10th win since joining the Bobcats in early January. Kucharski took the loss on 12 saves; Schilling turned aside seven of nine Bobcat attempts but did not factor into the decision.
 
With the win, the Bobcats (25-25-2, 52 pts) stayed within two points of fourth-place Aberdeen (25-23-4, 54 pts) and five points of Brookings (26-20-5, 57 pts) in the tightly packed Central Division playoff chase after both South Dakota teams picked up wins Saturday.
 
Now the Bobcats turn their attention to a two-game home set with the Brookings Blizzard, starting Friday at 7:15pm. The weekend will also include the Bobcats’ eighth annual Brave the Shave night, where players and staff will have their heads shaved with special edition jerseys auctioned off after the game to help area children in the fight against pediatric cancer.
 
Tickets are now on sale for both games of Brave the Shave Weekend: fans can buy and print tickets online 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com or charge by phone during normal business hours at 222-3300.
 
Friday’s St. Patrick’s Day clash will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270 AM, and worldwide on HockeyTV.com–the web television partner of the North American Hockey League–with pregame coverage starting at 6:50pm.
 
Pro-rated season tickets are now on sale for the Bobcats’ landmark platinum anniversary campaign fans can get more information or reserve their seats for all of Season Twenty now by calling 222-3300.

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