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Livin’ on the Edge

Barry’s Hat Trick Keeps Bobcats’ Playoff Chances Alive
 
BROOKINGS, SD – Facing their first true must-win regular season game since March 2008, the Bismarck Bobcats got a hat trick from rookie sensation Matt Barry to hold off the Brookings Blizzard for a 5-3 victory at Larson Ice Center to keep the Cats’ postseason hopes afloat headed into the final week of the 2016-17 regular season.
 
With the game scoreless through the first ten minutes Saturday, Barry got the Bobcats on the board first: cashing in a power play goal three seconds after a 5-on-3 ended, blasting a one-timer from Tristan Ashbrook under the crossbar with 9:22 left in the first for a 1-0 Bobcat edge.
 
Surviving a fierce pushback from the Blizzard following Barry’s opening salvo, the Cats grew their advantage to 2-0 on a 2-on-1 rush when newcomer Alex Pollock earned his first junior goal, ripping a wrist shot off the left post and in at the 2:53 mark of the first.
 
The eleventh minute of the second period provided the game with its turning point: moments after Bobcat goalie Camden Haugenoe made a highlight reel kick save at one end, Mitch Walinski took an entry pass from Kevin Ness up the left wing and patiently maneuvered to the front of the net before lifting a close-range shot over the glove of Brookings netminder Josh Boyko with 9:34 left in the stanza to make it 3-0 in favor of the visitors.
 
Brookings broke Haugenoe’s spell with 6:42 on the clock in the second on a 3-on-1 break as Cade Borchardt connected with a streaking Taylor Schneider who beat the Williston native five-hole to cut the score to 3-1.
 
Before the middle frame could end, the Cats restored their three-goal cushion at 4-1 in transition when Barry converted a 4-on-2, rocketing a one-timer from Cooper Haar over Boyko with just 22 seconds on the clock.
 
A broken play 7:21 into the third helped the Blizzard get back within two when the Bobcat defense blocked a pass from John Siebenaler that rolled straight to Schneider for a back-door tap-in for a 4-2 count.
 
When a Jared Resseguie interference minor threatened to let Brookings draw even closer, Barry silenced the Larson Ice Center partisans, collecting a penalty kill clear-out from Tanner Breidenbach and speeding up the right wing, stickhandling through defenseman Brett Callahan and spinning across the goal mouth before sending an off-balance backhander through Boyko’s pads and in for a 5-2 score with 9:37 left to complete the Cats’ second hat trick of the season.
 
Another fortuitous bounce brought Brookings within 5-3 when a blocked shot off the stick of Connor Koviak landed right on the stick of Doug Larson, who buried the puck before Haugenoe could recover to the left post to make it a two-goal game once again with 6:52 left.
 
Following Larson’s tally, the Bobcat defense clamped down, allowing just three shots in the final six-plus minutes to cement a 5-3 final.
 
Haugenoe dazzled with 33 saves for his seventh win of the year; Boyko made 21 stops but couldn’t avoid his 19th loss of 2016-17.
 
With the win, the Bobcats (28-28-2, 58 pts) pulled back within three points of the Blizzard (28-25-5, 61 pts) for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. In order to overtake Brookings for the division’s last postseason berth, the Bobcats will need to win out and hope for the Blizzard drop both games to Aberdeen next weekend.
 
Needing two wins to close the 2016-17 regular season, the Bobcats will host the Austin Bruins at the VFW Sports Center for two all-important contests.
 
Tickets are now on sale for the Cats’ final home weekend: fans can buy and print tickets 24 hours a day online at BismarckBobcats.com or charge by phone at 222-3300.
 
Friday’s penultimate regular season contest will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270 AM, and worldwide on HockeyTV.com–the web television partner of the North American Hockey League–with pregame coverage starting at 6:50pm.
 
Season tickets for the 2017-18 campaign are now available for pre-order: fans can get more information or reserve their seats for all of next year now by calling 222-3300 or by texting TICKETS to 701-390-7422.

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