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Circle the Wagons

Late Surge Pushes Bobcats past Wings 6-4
 
ABERDEEN, SD – When what had been a two-goal lead was erased early in the third period, the Bismarck Bobcats dug deep and poured in three goals in the final 11 minutes of regulation to seize an important 6-4 victory Saturday over the Aberdeen Wings at the Odde Ice Center.
 
Clinging to a tenuous 3-2 advantage at the second intermission, the Bobcats saw the Wings equalize just 3:47 into the final frame when netminder Hunter Shepard misplayed the puck in the corner, allowing Collin Hughes to pop the puck in before Shepard could get back into position.
 
A strong forecheck by Matt Perry and Jake Tomkowiak, however, would turn the momentum back in the Bobcats’ favor as Perry gathered the puck off pressure by Tomkowiak and fed Cole Souto at the blue line and the 18-year-old defenseman blasted a rising shot through traffic that beat goalie Chad Catt glove side to restore the Bobcats to a one-goal edge at 4-3 with 10:38 to go in the third.
 
Bismarck High grad Jared Spooner padded the visitors’ cushion to 5-3 a scant 2:18 later on the power play, teeing up a Cullen Willox rebound for his fifth goal of the year.
 
As they did eight days prior, Aberdeen brought it to a 5-4 score late when Colin O’Neill snapped in a second-chance opportunity off a long Tucker DeYoung rebound with 2:51 to play.
 
Wings head coach Francis Anzalone pulled Catt in the final two minutes in an attempt to draw even, but Shepard dazzled in crunch time, making highlight-reel saves on Aberdeen first-liners Kyle Haak and Ronnie Hein to preserve the lead.
 
“Mistakes happen and ‘Shep’ didn’t hang his head after Aberdeen tied it,” remarked Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “He came right back and made big saves on their best players and it fired up everyone on our bench to go empty the tank and get two points.”
 
Willox sealed the contest for the visitors with 30 seconds remaining, looping a 120-foot shot into the empty net for the final margin of 6-4.
 
Short-staffed up front due to injuries and the World Junior Championships, the Bobcats still managed to charge out to a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game, getting a power play tally from Logan Rivard before Willox struck with 15:08 left in the first. Willox’s goal chased Aberdeen starter Andrew Shortridge from the net; the rookie finished with two saves on four shots but did not factor into the decision.
 
Aberdeen pulled to within 2-1 with 2:06 gone in the middle frame on O’Neill’s first of the night, but Bobcat co-captain Evan Giesler answered back 53 seconds later on a delayed penalty call, deflecting in a back-door pass from Tanner Salsberry to restore the two-goal advantage at 3-1.
 
Michael Soucier sliced the Cats’ lead to 3-2 at the 6:47 mark of the second, redirecting Zac Goodrich’s point shot on the power play, setting the table for Saturday’s wild finish.
 
Shepard turned in 37 saves to collect his fourth win of the season. Catt finished with 23 stops but slipped to 5-9-1 in 2014-15.
 
With the win, the Bobcats head into the 10-day Christmas break at 16-15-1, three points clear of the Wings for third place in the Central.
 
On the other side of Christmas, the Bobcats will close out 2014 with a New Year’s Eve game at the VFW Sports Center against the first-place Minot Minotauros. The Cats will wear special edition New Year’s jerseys for the game that will be auctioned off live after the conclusion.
 
Tickets are now on sale for New Year’s Eve against the Tauros: fans can buy and print tickets 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com.
 
Though the 2014-15 season is now under way, there is still time to order season tickets for the year; fans who want to lock in their seats for the entire campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!