Willox, Perry and Rivard Fuel Bobcats’ Bounce-Back
SOLDOTNA, AK – The Bismarck Bobcats got multi-point nights from Cullen Willox, Matt Perry and Logan Rivard to cruise to a 4-1 win on Friday over the Kenai River Brown Bears at the Soldotna Sports Center, halting the Cats’ season-high three-game losing skid.
Willox opened the scoring for the Cats late in the first period, outmuscling the Kenai River defense for net-front position to tap in an Evan Giesler centering pass with 3:30 to go in the opening frame for a 1-0 lead.
A Bobcat offensive explosion in the second put the game out of reach, starting when Perry grabbed an entry from Rivard and threaded a no-angle shot past Brown Bears goalie Josh Creelman to make it 2-0 for the visitors 7:54 into the middle stanza.
At the 6:06 mark, Willox submitted a highlight reel strike, grabbing a loose puck in his own end, dekeing past both Kenai River defensemen in transition and beating Creelman inside the short post for his second goal of the game and a 3-0 edge for the Cats. The goal—his sixth of the year—gave Willox his third two-goal game of 2014-15.
Rivard, a rookie winger out of Brainerd, Minn., put an exclamation point on the Bobcats’ offensive burst, tapping a Perry rebound into a wide-open cage with 4:12 remaining in the second to push the score all the way to 4-0.
Following the second intermission, the Bears replaced Creelman—who entered Friday with a league-best 0.96 GAA—with Alec Derks.
In an evenly played third, Kenai River spoiled the shutout bid of Bobcat goalie Alex Bitsakis with just 5:27 to play as Jack Gessert cashed in a 3-on-2 rush for the homestanding Brown Bears.
Though his first clean sheet in the NAHL eluded him, Bitsakis dazzled: stopping 23 of 24 shots to secure his third win of the season.
Creelman wound up with the loss on 10 saves; Derks turned aside all seven shots he faced but did not factor in the decision.
The Bobcats will try and finish their two-week Alaska trip at .500 when the two sides reconvene for a 10:30pm rematch at the Soldotna Sports Center.
Live coverage of Saturday’s road trip finale will begin at 10:30pm 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 now under way, there is still time to order season tickets for the year; fans who want to lock in their seats for the entire campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!