Sluggish Start Dooms Bobcats in Home Opener
BISMARCK, ND – Before five minutes had elapsed on Coors Light Opening Night, the Bismarck Bobcats found themselves behind 2-0 and could not ever get back to even footing, falling 4-2 Saturday to the Austin Bruins at the VFW Sports Center.
A defensive zone turnover by the Bobcats led to a fast 1-0 lead for the Bruins, as Jacob Kullberg swiped the puck and beat goalie Hunter Shepard low just 2:12 into the game.
JC MacLean extended the Austin advantage to 2-0 just 88 seconds later, tipping in a 20-footer from Brian Bachnak.
The Cats were able to stem the tide on a penalty kill mid-way through the first, as a couple shorthanded chances spurred some momentum that was cashed in with 3:48 to go in the opening frame as rookie Anthony Song netted his second of the year through traffic to cut it to a 2-1 game after one.
Building off the momentum of Song’s tally, the home side dominated the second period, outshooting the Bruins 20-5, but could not solve netminder Jake Kielly.
Austin would pull ahead with 12:06 to go in the second on a 4-on-4 shift as a defensive zone breakdown freed defender Ian Scheid for a 15-foot wrister that Shepard could not catch up with, pushing the Bruins back ahead by two at 3-1.
Alex Strand pulled the Cats right back into the game 4:12 into the third, bringing the score to 3-2 when the second-year forward whacked away at his own rebound until it popped over Kielly and in.
Following Strand’s goal, the Bobcats’ comeback hopes were dampened by four consecutive penalties, one of which quickly turned into a 4-2 advantage for the Bruins when Bachnak easily put back a rebound from Cory Dunn just four seconds into a tripping minor on Nate Werhane with 13:18 to go in regulation.
Even with Shepard pulled for the extra attacker, the Cats could not best Kielly, who only needed five saves after Strand’s marker to collect his fifth win of the season.
Shepard turned in 16 saves in defeat, slipping to 1-2-0 on the season.
The Bobcats now head out on the road for a two-week trip to Alaska, starting with a 10:30pm Friday date with the defending Robertson Cup champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs at the Big Dipper.
Friday’s interdivision tilt will be aired locally on SuperTalk 1270, KLXX-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 the 2014-15 season now here, demand for season tickets is at an all-time high; fans who want to lock in their seats for the entire campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!