Bobcats’ Season Ends amid Wichita Falls Game Two Rally
EDINA, MN – Another banner year for the Bismarck Bobcats ended on a sour note as a three-goal surge by the Wichita Falls Wildcats made the difference in a 5-2 win for Wichita Falls to give the second-seeded Wildcats a 2-0 series victory in the best-of-three-game Robertson Cup Semifinal.
Things started well for the Bobcats: 17 seconds after goalie Hunter Shepard made a circus save on Wildcat winger Austin Beaulieu, Willie Brown struck in traffic at the other end to lift the Central Division representatives to a 1-0 lead 1:31 into the contest.
As they did the night before, Wichita Falls dialed up an answer less than five minutes later when Andre Pison rifled home a snap shot from the left wing circle to knot the game at one with 15:51 to go in the first.
Wichita Falls gained the lead at the 3:20 mark of the opening frame in transition when two Bobcat backcheckers collided at the red line, springing the Wildcats on a 2-on-1 that Michael Rounds finished on a back door pass from Jonny Lazarus for a 2-1 score.
Lazarus compounded the Bobcats’ problems just 62 seconds into the middle stanza when an Austin Albrecht centering pass deflected off the winger’s skate on a Wildcat power play, doubling the advantage to two at 3-1.
Not backing down, the Bobcats got right back into the game with a power play goal of their own to cut the margin to 3-2 as Alex Strand buried a low-slot pass from Harrison Aide past Wildcat netminder Justin Kapelmaster with 13:57 remaining in the frame.
Just after the halfway mark of the second session, the game ground to a halt when Shepard fell to the ice in severe pain after stopping a long-distance shot from Jake Dalton that caught him in on the side of the rib cage—an area with minimal padding. Initially struggling to even stand up, Shepard convinced trainers and coaches that he could stay in the game.
Despite Shepard’s gutsy recovery, Wichita Falls regained a two-goal edge at 4-2 with 4:59 on the clock in the second on a Nick Rosa tap-in.
In the third, the Bobcats’ comeback attempts were thwarted at every turn by a swarming Wildcat defense and timely saves from Kapelmaster. When Shepard was lifted for the extra attacker, Nikita Litviak gave the game its final score of 5-2, dialing in an empty-netter with 51 seconds left in the game.
In his final game in black and gold, Shepard set another season high in saves with 40 but could not avoid the season-ending loss. Kapelmaster made 24 saves to stay undefeated in the postseason at 8-0.
Departing from the Bobcats are 1995 birth-years Shepard, Strand, Aide, Brown, Patrik Demel, Nick Wallace, Aaron Herdt, Jared Pike, Cole Souto, Garrett Nelson, Travis Wood and Oskars Batna. Co-captain Joe Tyran—born in 1996—will also move on to play Division I college hockey at the US Air Force Academy.
Next up for the Bobcats is a pair of Pre-Draft Tryout Camps: starting in Fraser, Mich., this Friday through Sunday; then June 3-5 in Prior Lake, Minn. Two days after open camps end, the Bobcats—along with the NAHL’s other 23 teams—will participate in the 2016 NAHL Entry Draft on June 7 at 1:00pm.
Bobcat Hockey would like to thank all of its fans, sponsors, game night workers, billet families and staff for making Season Nineteen one to remember; our twentieth season in Bismarck/Mandan is just around the corner!
Season tickets are now on sale for the Bobcats’ landmark platinum anniversary campaign: fans can get more information or reserve their seats for all of Season Twenty now by calling 222-3300.