Playoff Atmosphere

BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats rattled off three unanswered goals and finished the 2011-12 regular season on a high note, rallying to up-end the Aberdeen Wings 4-2 Saturday in front of a packed house at the VFW Sports Center.

Trailing 2-1 after the first period, the Bobcats bounced back in the second period, sparking a rally by outshooting the Wings 18-2 in the middle frame. Patrick Moore got the rush started, banging in a Frank DeAugustine centering pass while getting hauled down with 11:51 left in the second, getting the sellout crowd rocking.

With 2:10 left to go in the second Nick Miglio continued his string of hot play, netting his third goal in three games by redirecting a transition pass from former Wing Filip Starzynski over the glove of Aberdeen netminder Marcus Zelzer to give the Cats their first lead of the night at 3-2.

Dan Zawacki put an exclamation point on the rally in the final second of the game, collecting a loose puck in neutral ice with Zelzer pulled for the extra attacker and firing it the length of the ice and into an empty Aberdeen net for the final margin of 4-2.

“We started playing like we know we can again this weekend,” noted Miglio, whose team bounced back from its first three-game losing streak of 2011-12 with back-to-back wins over Aberdeen and Minot, “good efforts and smart plays and a better presence in the defensive zone were all keys and we put it together to get a little momentum heading into the playoffs.”

The Bobcats will open the 2012 Robertson Cup Playoffs Friday night with a Dakota Cup grudge match against the Wings.

Aberdeen struck first Saturday on the power play as a deflected clear by the Bobcat defense deflected straight to forward Paul Prescott in front of the Bobcat net, giving Prescott an easy tap-on past Bobcat goalie Aaron Nelson for a 1-0 Wings lead 3:14 into the game.

Just 190 seconds later, the Bobcats responded with a power play goal of their own as a floating shot from Bryce Anderson deflected off an Aberdeen defender and past Zelzer for an even 1-1 score.

Another power play strike from the Wings posted the visitors to a 2-1 lead late in the first when Mike Parnell collected a Steve Obarzanek rebound and deposited it in with just 22 seconds left in the opening frame.

“We made some changes to our penalty kill after the first period,” explained Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, who presided over a franchise best 45-13-2 season in his second year as head coach, “they were getting too many shots through and too much traffic. We switched it up a bit and the ‘PK’ got a lot sharper after the first.”

To wit, the Cats killed all five Aberdeen power plays in the second and third periods, including a brief 5-on-3 kill late in the third.

Nelson made 21 saves to secure his 13th win of 2011-12, while Zelzer was dealt his 11th loss of the season despite 37 saves.

Saturday’s win gave the Bobcats a final margin of 21-7 in the second Titan Machinery Dakota Cup Standings; the Cats were awarded the traveling trophy following the game.

Game One of the 2012 Central Division Semifinals between the Bobcats and Wings is scheduled for a 7:15 PM puck drop at the VFW Sports Center, with Game Two to follow Saturday at the same time and place.

Friday’s playoff lid-lifter will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide on the official internet television partner of the NAHL, FASTHockey, at Pregame coverage gets under way at 6:45.

Playoff tickets for the Bobcats’ first-round matchup with Aberdeen are now on sale for Game One April 6 and Game Two April 7! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 to reserve your seats or buy and print your playoff tickets online now at!