Bobcats Sweep Express with 5-1 Romp

OWATONNA, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats earned a two-game sweep of the Owatonna Express on Saturday, riding a three-goal third period to a 5-1 rout of the Express at the Four Seasons Centre to lock down first place in the Central Division heading into the Christmas Break.

Saturday’s win—combined with the Coulee Region Chill’s 5-3 loss at Austin—pushed the Cats’ (19-8-1, 39 pts) first place lead to five points over both the Express (15-12-4, 34 pts) and the Chill (16-8-2, 34 pts). Five points is the largest lead any team holding first place has enjoyed in the Central Division during the 2010-11 campaign.

In stark contrast to Friday’s 2-1 win, which saw the Bobcats go scoreless through the first two periods, the visitors got the scoring started 14:28 into the contest when Brett Bower grabbed a loose puck off a Frank DeAugustine clear-in and bombed a 30-foot one-time slap shot under the glove of Express goalie Brock Kautz to install the Cats to a 1-0 lead.

Tyler Richter pushed the lead to 2-0 with 11:45 left in the second, ripping a Nick Miglio centering feed under Kautz’s crossbar.

“Tyler’s goal was a real game-changer,” recalled Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie. “It caused the physical tempo to jump up a notch and it also made the Express more desperate.”

Owatonna’s desperation paid off early in the third on the power play when veteran Express blueliner Marian Fiala threaded a perfect backdoor feed to Lawrence Cornellier, who ripped a wrister past Bobcat netminder Ryan Faragher to chop the lead to 2-1 just 2:32 into the final frame.

The Bobcats depth proved too much for the Express to overcome down the stretch, however, as the visitors pulled away following Cornellier’s strike. At the 6:11 mark, Dan Zawacki pushed the lead back to two goals just five seconds into a Bobcat power play, redirecting a Tom Rizzardo shot off of Kautz and in for a 3-1 lead.

Bryce Schmitt followed just over two minutes later with a shorthanded score, picking a saucer pass from Emerson Auvenshine out of mid-air and banging it in to stretch the lead to 4-1.

DeAugustine capped the three-goal rally with 5:40 to go in the game, one-timing a low-slot pass from Bower past Kautz to put an exclamation point on Saturday’s 5-1 victory.

“Our guys stayed focused and put together one of their better performances all year,” said Sedevie, whose team is 8-1-0 in its last nine games going into Christmas. “It’s an effort that was right up there with the [December 10] 5-0 win over Austin, and it’s a great feeling for everyone to be up five points and enjoy the sweep heading into the holidays.”

The weekend marks the second time in 2010-11 that the Bobcats have swept the Express at the Four Seasons Centre—a feat no other Bobcat team accomplished even once in the five seasons since the Southern Minnesota Express joined the NAHL.

Faragher stopped 17 of 18 Owatonna shots en route to his league-best 18th win of the year. It also marked the 11th time in 25 starts that the Fort Frances, Ont., native has allowed one goal or fewer this year.

Kautz fell to 4-5-1 with the loss, stopping just 22 shots in defeat for the Express.

The Bobcats return to action following the holiday break on December 30th when they close out 2010—the most successful calendar year in Bobcat Hockey history—against the Aberdeen Wings at 7:15 PM at the VFW Sports Center.

The special Thursday night contest will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at Pre-game coverage will begin at 6:45 PM CT.

From the players, coaches and staff at Bobcat Hockey, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season and give a very special holiday thank you to our fans, sponsors, volunteers and host families—our continued success would not be possible without you!