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Lucky Thirteen

Top Line Soars as Bobcats Open with 6-3 Win
 
BISMARCK, ND – The 2015-16 installment of the Bismarck Bobcats hit the ground running Friday, getting a combined 13 points from the line of Willie Brown, Aaron Herdt and Travis Wood en route to a 6-3 season-opening victory over the Austin Bruins at the VFW Sports Center.
 
Though the Cats came out hot, outshooting Austin 12-2 in the first period, it was the Bruins who struck first when an up-ice rush from Gilbert Gabor created a hard one-time goal by Logan Haskins 6:30 into the contest to post the visitors to an early 1-0 advantage.
 
A late lucky bounce evened the score at one for the Bobcats, when rookie Pieter von Steinbergs looped a low shot toward the net that Wood deflected home with 15 seconds to go in the first.
 
Herdt followed up Wood’s equalizer 5:14 into the second on the forecheck, grabbing a centering pass from Brown and wiring a wrister over the glove of Bruins rookie netminder Jacob Berger to give the Cats a lead they would never surrender.
 
Second-year forward Harrison Aide, the 2014 Outstanding Senior Athlete for hockey in North Dakota, pushed the edge to 3-1 on the power play, ripping a pass from Wood in the slot over Berger’s glove and under the crossbar with 2:46 remaining in the middle stanza.
 
Wood, added to the roster earlier in the week, helped make it 4-1 with 10 seconds to go in the frame, creating a 2-on-0 in transition and feeding Herdt for the former Moorhead Spud’s second tally of the period.
 
Austin, however, did not let the Bobcats off so easily: back-to-back highlight reel goals from Griffin Slightham and Jan Stefka in the first seven minutes of the third shaved the home side’s edge down to 4-3 in the blink of an eye.
 
Aide quelled the Bruins’ uprising with 10:58 left in regulation, notching his second power play marker of the night in transition, snapping the twine over Berger’s catching mitt to restore a two-goal lead at 5-3.
 
Down by two in the final minutes, the Bruins pulled Berger and for the extra attacker, but the Brown-Herdt-Wood line struck in the final minute of a period for the third time as Wood tapped the puck into the empty net with 35 seconds remaining for the 6-3 final.
 
On the night, Brown notched a game-high five points—all assists—while Herdt and Wood each had two goals and two helpers.
 
Hunter Shepard, starting in net for the Cats’ season opener for the second straight year, submitted 20 saves to start 2015-16 at 1-0-0.
 
Berger received a rude welcome to the North American Hockey League, taking the loss on 25 stops.
 
The two sides will reconvene to wrap up opening weekend Saturday with a 7:15pm rematch at the VFW Sports Center.
 
Tickets are now on sale for Saturday’s rematch; fans can buy and print tickets online 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com.
 
The series finale will be broadcast live on locally SuperTalk 1270 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 pregame coverage starting at 6:45pm.
 
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2015-16 campaign; if you want to beat the rush of 40,000 fans for this season, now is the time! Call 222-3300 today to reserve your seats.