Love for the Shorties

Short-Handed Barrage Carries Bobcats to Sweep of Brown Bears
 
BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats broke a 2-2 deadlock with back-to-back shorthanded goals in the third period en route to a 5-2 victory over the Kenai River Brown Bears Saturday at the VFW Sports Center to secure a weekend sweep.
 
When an early tripping penalty on Matt Perry put the Bobcats on the kill in the final frame, Jared Pike responded with his fourth goal in three games, collecting a turnover created by Oskars Batna for a short breakaway that the rookie cashed in with a rising backhanded to push the Cats in front 3-2 with 13:57 to go in regulation.
 
Perry—who turns 19 on Sunday—then followed Pike’s lead just over nine minutes later, stealing the puck at his own blueline for a shorthanded breakaway that the Air Force recruit converted on a wrister over the glove of Kenai River goalie Alec Derks to stretch the lead to 4-2.
 
Bobcat goalie Hunter Shepard kept the crowd rocking at the VFW 29 seconds after Perry’s insurance marker, diving to his left and using the paddle of his stick to deny a wide-open backdoor chance for Brown Bears forward Maurin Bouvet.
 
In the last two minutes of the game, Brown Bears head coach Geoff Beauparlant pulled Derks for the extra attacker—a decision that led to a pair of scoring chances for Kenai River, but ultimately resulted in the final margin of 5-2 as Bismarck native Jared Spooner one-timed a centering feed from Evan Giesler into the vacant cage with 10 seconds showing on the clock.
 
The Cats notched the only goal of the first in transition as Jared Turcotte blocked a shot at his own blueline and raced up the right wing with a Brown Bear defender matching him stride for stride on the left side; before the backcheck could converge, Turcotte ripped a low liner that beat Derks stick side with 4:30 to go in the first to make it 1-0 Bobcats.
 
Kenai River grabbed their first lead of the weekend at 2-1 on consecutive power play goals in the first two minutes of the second, with Zack Zulkanycz striking on a 5-on-3 42 seconds into the frame and then Matt Rudin scoring 32 ticks after the equalizer.
 
With 13:19 left in the middle stanza, deadline acquisition Willie Brown dragged the Bobcats back to level footing at 2-2 with a goal-of-the-year candidate, maneuvering through all five Brown Bear skaters, drawing Derks toward the left post and raising a backhand off the right iron and in to set the table for the Bobcats’ special teams rally.
 
Though he had his shutout streak halted at 124:53, Shepard bounced back from a rough start to the second to secure his 13th win of the season on 16 saves. Derks compiled 33 stops but slipped to 6-13-0.
 
Despite Brookings’ 3-2 win over Austin Saturday, the Cats still managed to whittle their magic number—any combination of points gained by the Bobcats and lost by the Blizzard—down to three to clinch their seventh consecutive playoff appearance.
 
The Bobcats will continue their seven-game home stand Thursday with their final meeting of the year with the rival Aberdeen Wings. Thursday will also be St. Baldrick’s Night, as Bobcats players, coaches and staff will get their heads shaved and auction off special edition game-worn jerseys to benefit awareness, research and curing of childhood cancer.
 
Tickets are on sale now for the Cats’ sixth annual St. Baldrick’s Night: fans can buy and print tickets online 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com or charge by phone at 222-3300.
 
Live coverage of Thursday’s final installment of the Titan Machinery Dakota Cup will start at 6:45pm 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.
 
Though the 2014-15 season is entering its home stretch, pro-rated season tickets are still available for the last run of home games; fans who want to lock in their seats for the remainder of the campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!