Killing in the Name of

Perfect Penalty Kill Keys Road Win as Cats Clinch Third
 
CLOQUET, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats killed off five third-period penalties and hung on late for a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wilderness Saturday at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, snapping a season-long five-game losing streak and locking in the third seed in the upcoming Central Division playoffs.
 
Leading 2-1 after two periods, the Bobcats were besieged in the final frame by four consecutive Wilderness power plays that saw the home side take 13 shots in a row, but goalie Hunter Shepard had the answer each and every time to keep the Cats ahead.
 
After the black and gold wiped out a hooking minor on Matt Perry, the visitors got their only shot of the period—and made it count—when Tony German buried a back-door pass from Evan Giesler on a 2-on-1 rush to run the score to 3-1 with 3:44 remaining in regulation.
 
Minnesota clawed back into the game with 1:07 to go as Wayland Williams threaded a low shot through a cluster of bodies that beat Shepard five-hole. The goal was initially waved off but eventually allowed after extensive discussion among the referees and goal judge.
 
One goal, however, would be as close as the Wilderness would get: the Bobcat defense allowed just one shot on Shepard in the final minute—despite one last penalty kill on an Oskars Batna roughing infraction—to secure the 3-2 win.
 
Following a scoreless first, the Bobcats took advantage of a five-minute major power play 4:16 into the second when Willie Brown darted across the goal line and into the low slot, out-waited Wilderness netminder Brock Kautz and tucked home a backhander for a 1-0 edge.
 
A controversial goal evened the score at one for the Wilderness, as Minnesota forward Ian Mansfield toppled into Shepard while crashing the net, allowing a point shot from Bradley Johnson to bounce off the Bobcat goalkeeper and in with 5:38 left in the second.
 
When the Cats were awarded their second 5-on-3 power play of the middle stanza, Cullen Willox pounced on a Batna rebound and slammed it home with 37 seconds left in the frame to regain the advantage at 2-1 and set the stage for a white-knuckle third.
 
Shepard piled up a season-high 39 saves in the win, his 14th of his rookie campaign. Kautz stopped 16 Bobcat shots but couldn’t avoid his seventh loss of the year.
 
Thanks to the Bobcats’ and Austin Bruins’ wins on Saturday, the Central Division playoff picture has been finalized: the Bruins claim the top seed and will face the Aberdeen Wings in the first round; the Bobcats secure the third seed and will travel to take on the hated rival Minot Minotauros to open the 2015 Robertson Cup Playoffs.
 
Before they meet in April, however, the Bobcats and Tauros will wrap up the regular season Friday and Saturday at the VFW Sports Center with a pair of 7:15pm tilts.
 
Tickets are now on sale for the final two games of the 2014-15 regular season: fans can buy and print their tickets online 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com or charge by phone at 222-3300.
 
With the playoff picture set, postseason ticket details will be released early this week at BismarckBobcats.com!