Aide Powers Bobcat Rally to Clinch Series
BROOKINGS, SD – Trailing in the second period, the Bismarck Bobcats rattled off three straight goals, including two from Harrison Aide, to defeat the Brookings Blizzard 3-1 Saturday and win their best-of-five-game Central Division Semifinal series three games to one.
A slow start put the Bobcats behind the eight-ball, as the visitors mounted just seven shots on net in the opening frame while Griff Jeszka struck for his third goal of the weekend to give Brookings a 1-0 lead with 5:42 remaining in the first.
Patrik Demel shook the Bobcat offense out of the doldrums with 9:26 gone in the second, taking a feed from Willie Brown in transition and zipping a low shot that beat Brookings netminder Josh Kuemichel in traffic to knot the score at one.
Aide carried the momentum forward from Demel’s tally 5:31 later when the Bottineau, N.D., native found a seam in the Brookings defense out of the left wing corner and fired a wrist shot over Kuemichel’s glove and in for the Cats’ first lead of the night at 2-1.
Bobcat goalie Hunter Shepard gave the game its turning point over the ensuing three-plus minutes: first turning away a Jeszka one-timer on a Blizzard power play 2:24 after Aide’s go-ahead goal, then denying Garrett Elmore at point-blank range when the winger got free in front of the Cats’ net with 1:51 left in the second.
On the other side of the second intermission, Aide supplied some major insurance: stretching the score to 3-1 on another wrister over Kuemichel’s glove—this time in transition—just 1:25 into the third period.
From there, the Bobcat defense deployed a smothering tactic that held Brookings at bay in the neutral zone and forced them to try and move the puck the length of the ice.
Despite a flurry of shots in the final two minutes with Kuemichel pulled for the extra attacker, Shepard made all nine saves asked of him in the third to preserve the 3-1 final score and move the Bobcats on to the second round of the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs.
In all, Shepard made 28 stops to secure his third playoff victory of 2016. Kuemichel turned in 24 saves but finished the postseason with a 1-3 mark.
With Saturday’s win, the Bobcats advance to the Central Division Finals, where they will face the two-time defending division champion Austin Bruins—who eliminated Minot three games to one with a 3-2 home win Saturday. Game One of the divisional final will be Friday at 7:15pm at the VFW Sports Center.
Tickets are now on sale for Friday’s series opener: fans can buy and print tickets online at BismarckBobcats.com, by clicking “Shop Now” on the team Facebook page or charge-by-phone at 222-3300 during normal business hours.
Game One will be broadcast live 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—with pregame coverage starting at 6:45pm.
Tickets are now on sale for the Cats’ run in the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs and are already going fast! Lock in yours for the entire playoff run by signing up for 2016-17 season tickets today.
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