BISMARCK, ND – Facing an early 2-0 deficit at home against the North Iowa Outlaws, the first place Bismarck Bobcats came charging back to upend the Outlaws 3-2 at the VFW Sports Center Friday night.
Down by a pair after less than 11 minutes had elapsed in the game, the Bobcats stemmed the tide of North Iowa’s momentum before a five-minute offensive explosion swung the game in the home team’s favor.
The ‘Cats rally started with 3:09 remaining in the second period when forward Sean McKenzie redirected a Sam Rendle power play shot home, cutting the Outlaw lead to 2-1 and breaking up the shutout bid of North Iowa netminder Keegan Asmundson.
A mere 59 seconds later, the Bobcats rattled off their second straight power play tally as Casey Kleisinger rifled a 30-foot wrist shot past the glove of Asmundson, tying the game at two with 2:10 left in the second.
“We went into the locker room after the first feeling like we dominated the play, even though we were down 2-0,” said Kleisinger, who has scored four goals in his last three games, “so our confidence was never rattled. We just kept playing hard and late in the second our power play got dialed in for a couple big goals and we never looked back.”
Two minutes into the third, Bobcats leading goal scorer Ryan Jacobson grabbed a loose puck in the low slot of the North Iowa zone after Jason Fabian had it poked off his stick and pushed a backhander through Asmundson’s legs to lift the ‘Cats to a 3-2 edge.
“We’ve really been working hard on driving the net in practice this week,” noted Jacobson, “because if you watch the film, 70% of all goals are scored from the 7 or 8 feet around the crease. So I drove in behind Jason looking for a rebound and got a lucky little bounce instead and was able to put it in.”
The score was Jacobson’s 16th of the season—and third in as many games—tying the Denver native for seventh in goals league-wide.
Play was interrupted a minute and a half later after North Iowa’s Jamie Knight checked McKenzie into the boards from behind, setting off a 10-man fracas in the corner of the Outlaw zone that resulted in ten major penalties and a game ejection for Knight.
The Outlaws never recovered from the Bobcat rally or the melee, efforting only four shots in the entire third period at Bismarck goalie Ryan Faragher as the home team blanketed the North Iowa breakout, keeping play in the Outlaw end for most of the last ten minutes of the game.
Faragher bounced back from a rough first period to make 26 saves and pick up his 11th win; Outlaw forwards Tyler Klein and Scott Bell turned Bobcat turnovers into a fast 2-0 lead with 9:47 left in the opening frame before the ‘Cats righted the ship.
Asmundson made 39 saves on the night, but dropped to 2-3-0 in seven games with the Outlaws.
The Bobcats finished 2-for-10 on the power play while North Iowa was 0-for-2.
The two long-time Central Division rivals wrap up their two-game series Saturday night at the VFW Sports Center with a 7:15 PM tilt.
The game 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.