BISMARCK, ND–The emotions of a heartbreaking Friday night loss to Aberdeen poured out of the Bobcats Saturday night.
Brookings’ net seemed to catch the emotions.
Bismarck scored three times on the power play, once shorthanded, and three additional goals, some seven different men, routing the Brookings Blizzard 7-2 at the VFW Sports Center.
Tyler Dunagan (Maple Grove, MN) registered three assists, Evan Giesler (Naperville, IL) knocked in a goal and two assists, and the emotional Bobcat squad engaged the Blizzard in several fights, with the teams combining for 90 minutes of penalties.
And Brookings comes back to Bismarck for two more Thursday and Friday.
“We needed this tonight,” said Bobcat head coach Layne Sedevie, referring to the after-effects of the Bobcat 4-3 shootout loss to Aberdeen Friday night, a game that saw the Bobcats lose a two-goal lead in the final minutes to drop their third straight loss to the Wings, all at home.
“We played with a lot of emotion, and we played as close to a full 60 minutes as we’ve seen this season. This team loves to play from behind, and tonight, we finally played well with the lead, and put a team away.”
The Bobcats got to play both from behind and with the lead Saturday.
Bismarck showed some Friday night hangover in the early minutes, allowing the first five shots on goal, and Branden Parker zipped a puck through traffic that Bobcat backstopper Aaron Nelson misread. The puck snuck over Nelson’s shoulder for the opening goal of the night at 3:20 of the first.
“We woke up after they scored that first one,” said Sedevie of the Bobcat response, which was his team’s version of a first-period “Shock and Awe”.
Cullen Willox (Eagan, MN) converted the first power play with a brilliant wrister between two defenders from the top of the slot at 7:42. Jacob McDowell (Dimondale, MI) buried a rebounded puck that stuck in the paint for a matter of seconds uncontested at 12:11, and Giesler finished a crisp centering pass from Huba Sekesi (Munich, Germany) at 15:40, sending Blizzard goalie Austin Priebe to the showers and propelling the Bobcats to a 3-1 edge after a period.
The helper by Sekesi came after he started the game with some payback on his mind. He took a shot from Blizzard forward Conrad Sampair last Saturday after the game had ended, leading Sampair to a post-game misconduct that kept him out of action in the latest tilt.
Sekesi decided to send a message to the Blizzard that did show up. Repeated hits to Blizzard bodies in the early minutes led to a a fight with Brookings’ Conor Anderle, a fight that Sekesi started and ended aggressively, leading to both men receiving double minors. Nick Wallace (Burbank, CA) and Evan Hesse received delay of game calls for a separate altercation at the same time, setting the tone for the night.
Bobcat Nathan Flynn (Hastings, MN) and Brookings’ Evan Hesse were next to throw down, sending both to the box with majors at 6:24, filling both boxes with three men apiece.
Brookings responded with Michele Marchetti ending a long possession in the Bobcat zone on a one-timer set up by Elliot Tisdale from the top of the slot at 7:47 of the second, and for a moment, the Blizzard were back in the game, trailing by one at 3-2.
The goal, however, spelled the end of their night.
Dunagan sealed his third assist of the night, setting up Joonas Huovinen (Oulu, Finland) at 9:39 of the period, and Giesler tacked on the first of his two assists, finding Matt Anders on the power play at 18:59, powering the edge to 5-2 after two periods.
The third held still more Bobcat fireworks. Nate Repensky (Duluth, MN) hammered a Stanislav Dzakhov (Moscow, Russia) feed past replacement goalie Connor Girard for the third man-advantage score for the Bobcats at 6:44 of the third, and Flynn scored his first goal in a Bobcat uniform, a short-handed score, with a finish from Giesler at 8:59 to cap the scoring.
It did not cap the action, however. Matt Perry (Lakeville, MN) and Wyatt Schmidt boiled over into a scrum two minutes later. As the altercation ended, Tisdale picked a spot with Repensky, and without referee intervention, Repensky threw Tisdale to the ice, pushed his head to the surface, then separated on his own, only to register one last parting shot to the Blizzard with a shove that sent Tisdale back to the ice, the crowd to their loudest roar of the night, and Repensky to the locker room with a game ejection.
The win lifts the Bobcats out of a tie for second place in the division, and, with 48 points, they trail Austin by one for first. Bismarck meets Brookings again Thursday and Friday night in Bismarck. Tickets still available for both games at 222-3300 or online at www.bismarckbobcats.com.