Four Moore

MINOT, ND – In their final game of 2011-12 at Maysa Arena, the Bismarck Bobcats got four points from Patrick Moore and cruised past the Minot Minotauros for a comfortable 5-2 win Friday.

Moore racked up a goal and three assists in his first game back after missing nearly a month to an arm injury as the Bobcats (39-9-1, 79 pts) dropped their magic number to 11 to clinch first place in the Central Division and seven for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Bobcats drew first blood 1:20 into the game when Castan Sommer grabbed a feed on the forecheck from Tyler Richter and flicked a backhander past Minot goalie Tim Shaughnessy, making it a quick 1-0 Bobcat lead.

Bryce Schmitt doubled the lead for the visitors, jamming home a centering effort from Moore after linemate Buster Hebda created a turnover at the Tauros’ blue line, pushing it to 2-0 Cats with 12:59 left in the first.

Minot was able to get on the board on the tail end of a late first period Bobcat power play as the defense lost track of Austin Hoff, who had been serving a tripping minor, as the Tauros’ mid-season acquisition raced behind the Cats’ blueliners on a long clearout for a breakaway that he converted over the outstretched left leg of netminder Tommy Burke to cut it to 2-1 with 1:34 left in the first.

Moore helped the Bobcats respond before the buzzer, however, serving a slow saucer pass to Ryan Callahan—fresh on the ice after a line change with Hebda—that the rookie from Grafton, ND, rocketed over Shaughnessy’s blocker with 58 seconds left in the opening frame for a 3-1 Bobcat lead.

“It was hard to sit the games out and watch the boys battle every night while I was hurt,” admitted Moore who, with his four points Friday, is only one point off of a point-per-game pace with 39 points in 40 games, “so it was really good to get back out there. Working on a line with Bryce and Buster was really helpful, too, because they work so hard and win a lot of puck battles in the dirty areas.”

Danny Ray pushed the lead to 4-1 for the Bobcats, using a screen on the power play by Schmitt to fool Shaughnessy with a bit of a changeup 5:10 into the second.

It was the Bobcats’ only power play tally of the night despite 10 chances with the man advantage.

“1-for-10 will end up being a bit misleading when you look at the box score,” noted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “The guys got some good chances and moved the puck well but had some trouble getting it on net early and beating a hot goalie late.”

Moore pushed the lead to 5-1 with 10:21 to go in the second when a Jeremy O’Keefe shot deflected right to him, freeing the Grand Rapids, Minn., native to deke to the right and shovel the puck past Shaughnessy for his 16th goal of the year. The goal closed the book on Shaughnessy, who took the loss on 19 saves.

Jake Hebda, twin brother of Bobcat forward Buster, replaced Shaughnessy and stopped all 19 shots he faced, though he was bailed out twice by a displaced net on apparent goals by Dan Zawacki and Adam Knochenmus.

Minot forward Carl Krieger notched the lone goal of the third period, bouncing in a shot off the inside of Burke’s knee on the rush to give the game its final margin of 5-2.

Burke made 17 saves to pick up his 27th win of 2011-12, keeping him one victory off the pace of league-leader Tony Kujava of Janesville.

The Bobcats and Tauros will wrap up their home-and-home series Saturday as the scene shifts to the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck for a 7:15 PM rematch.

Saturday’s weekend finale will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide on the official internet television partner of the NAHL, FASTHockey, at http://nahl.fasthockey.com. Pregame coverage gets under way at 6:45 PM.

Season tickets are still available for the second half of the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email gobobcathockey@aol.com for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!