BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats rallied to overcome a two-goal second period deficit but came up short in the shootout, falling to the Owatonna Express 3-2 Friday at the VFW Sports Center.
Facing a 2-0 Express lead with four minutes left in the second period, the Bobcats hit the comeback trail as Casey Kleisinger popped home a Brett Bower centering feed for his 16th goal of 2009-10, slicing the Owatonna advantage to 2-1 with 2:57 left in the second.
Kleisinger nearly tied the game with three seconds left in the second, but couldn’t connect on a pass from Sean McKenzie, sending the game to third with the visitors on top 2-1.
The Bobcats broke through to tie the game with 10:38 left in regulation when Ben Danford—acquired by the Bobcats two weeks ago along with Tyler Klein in a trade with the North Iowa Outlaws—guided a low power play wrist shot inside the near post of Express goalie Matt Hemingway.
The goal is Danford’s tenth of the year but his first in black and gold.
Neither team managed to break through in either the final ten minutes of regulation or overtime, despite numerous chances for the Bobcats denied by a red-hot Hemingway, forcing the decisive shootout.
Express forward Dan Cecka opened the shootout with a goal for the Express, popping a wrist shot over Bobcat goalie Ryan Faragher after a picture-perfect deke, giving Owatonna a 1-0 lead.
The first three Bobcat shooters were turned away by Hemingway while in the fourth round Express defenseman Jake Suter outmaneuvered Faragher and deposited a backhander past the Bismarck netminder to give the visitors a 2-0 shootout lead.
Kleisinger could not convert the last-chance penalty shot for the ‘Cats, giving Owatonna the 3-2 win. The Bobcats are now 1-4 in overtime and shootout games against the Express and 4-1-4 against Owatonna overall.
The Express built their early 2-0 lead on a first period goal from leading scorer Cory Thorson and a late second period tally by Zach Vierling before the Bobcats made their run.
Hemingway finished with 33 saves en route to his 7th win for the Express while Faragher made 22 saves but slipped to 18-5-7 on the year.
The overtime loss shaves the Bobcats’ (28-9-8, 64 pts) Central Division lead over the Express (26-15-4, 56 pts) down to eight points heading into Friday’s 7:15 PM series finale at the VFW Sports Center.
For Friday’s contest, the Bobcats will be hosting their fourth annual Tough Enough to Play in Pink Night, where Bobcat players will wear special edition pink jerseys that will be auctioned off during and after the game to benefit the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.
The series finale will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. The pre-game show starts at 6:45 PM.
You won\’t want to miss any of the games this season, so order your Season Tickets, Family Packs and Group Nights today by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300 or by e-mailing the office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.