Third and Fourth Lines Power Bobcats’ Resurgence
ABERDEEN, SD – The Bismarck Bobcats got five goals from their third and fourth lines and shrugged off a second-period rally to snap their five-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Aberdeen Wings at Odde Ice Center Friday.
Third line center Oskars Batna got the scoring started just 64 seconds into the game, making a mid-slot redirect of a point shot from Tyse Teague through the legs of Aberdeen starting netminder Gavin Paczosa for his first of the year.
Batna’s second tally of 2015-16 would come after a much shorter layoff: the towering Latvian found a Kyle Sylvester rebound in a net-front scrum and stuffed it home at the 14:51 mark to boost the visiting Bobcats to a 2-0 advantage and chase Paczosa in favor of rookie Peter Thome.
Thome steadied the Wings defensively, stopping all seven shots that came his way in the opening stanza.
Aberdeen came roaring back on special teams, however, with a pair of power play goals in less than six minutes from Colin Raver and Gavin Payne to knot the game at two with 10:28 to go in the middle frame.
Rookie Nick Alexander finally broke Thome’s spell with 2:49 left in the second, taking an entry pass from Batna before using a screen set by the 6-foot-6 center to rip a low liner inside the right post to put the Bobcats back ahead at 3-2.
That lead would grow to 4-2 early in the third when Harrison Aide sprung Tobias Fladeby for a breakaway that the Norwegian winger cashed in with a backhand through Thome’s legs with 13:08 remaining in regulation.
Though the Wings would eventually pull Thome for an extra attacker, the Cats’ shotblocking defense stymied them at every turn. Alexander would put the finishing touches on the win with an empty netter, blasting a one-timer home after Jared Pike rang the post moments prior.
Bobcat goalie Hunter Shepard needed just 13 saves for his third win of 2015-16. Shepard’s defense allowed a season-low 15 shots on the night.
Thome suffered the loss despite 29 stops; though he surrendered goals on the only two shots he faced, Paczosa—fighting a hip injury—did not factor into the decision.
The Cats now turn their attention toward a Saturday visit to the Larson Ice Center, where they will face the fourth-place Brookings Blizzard at 7:30pm.
Saturday’s divisional clash will be broadcast live on locally SuperTalk 1270 AM, the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, and worldwide online at NAHL.FASTHockey.com—the official web television partner of the North American Hockey League—with pregame coverage starting at 7:00pm.
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2015-16 campaign; if you want to beat the rush of 40,000 fans for this season, now is the time! Call 222-3300 today to reserve your seats.