Pike Paces Bobcats to Dakota Cup-Clinching Win
ABERDEEN, SD – Jared Pike scored 17 seconds into the game then added another tally late in the second to power the Bismarck Bobcats to a 5-2 win Saturday over the Aberdeen Wings at the Odde Ice Center, thereby clinching the 2014-15 Titan Machinery Dakota Cup trophy for the black and gold.
Before the announced crowd of 1,418 could sit back down from the national anthem, Pike collected an Aberdeen defensive zone turnover in the high slot and ripped a rising wrist shot over the glove of goalie Andrew Shortridge to post the visitors to a fast 1-0 lead.
Bobcat netminder Alex Bitsakis preserved that lead with a highlight reel save at the 11:23 mark of the frame, diving back to his right from outside the crease to deny an otherwise wide-open tap-in for Colin Raver and cover the puck for a whistle as the Aberdeen partisans celebrated what at first looked to be an equalizer.
It stayed a 1-0 score until 5:15 remained in the second when another defensive zone turnover by the Wings became a centering pass from Joe Tyran to Matt Perry that the second-year center quickly fired through Shortridge’s legs to double the advantage to 2-0.
Just 40 seconds later, Cullen Willox stretched it to 3-0, blistering home a mid-slot pass from Harrison Aide for the co-captain’s 16th goal of the year.
Aberdeen found their way onto the board shortly thereafter off a Kyle Haak faceoff win that blueliner Brendan Riordan fired low through traffic and in past Bitsakis to cut the score to 3-1 with 2:52 left in the second.
Pike would tally again before intermission, however; the rookie from Sandy, Utah, grabbed the puck from Johnny Witzke in the right circle with 54 seconds to go and scorched a rising snap shot through a mass of bodies, beating Shortridge high to the stick side to restore the three-goal edge at 4-1.
Defenseman Ryan Cook gave the home side a glimmer of hope at 4-2 with 7:37 left in the third, rocketing a one-timer on the power play from another face-off win by Haak over Bitsakis’ glove.
But the Wings would draw no closer, and Harrison Aide put the finishing touches on the contest with an empty-netter with 93 seconds remaining in regulation to give the contest its final margin of 5-2.
Bitsakis picked up his 14th win of the year on 31 stops; Shortridge made 26 saves but fell to 12-11-1 on the year.
With the win, the Bobcats pushed out to a 15-5 lead in the Dakota Cup standings—salting away their fourth victory in the season series against the Wings in the last five years.
The two sides will reconvene for a 7:15pm Friday the 13th rematch at the VFW Sports Center.
Tickets are now on sale for round nine of Bobcats-Wings: fans can buy and print tickets online 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com or charge by phone at 222-3300.
Live coverage of Friday’s weekend opener will begin 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 has passed the half-way mark, there is still time to order season tickets for the year; fans who want to lock in their seats for the rest of the campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!