Red Down

BISMARCK, ND – With a party atmosphere at the VFW Sports Center and a season-high crowd cheering them on, the Bismarck Bobcats garnered an international victory, topping Russia’s Red Stars 2-1 Wednesday night.

“The crowd tonight was unbelievable,” beamed Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “The fans gave our guys a lot of energy and when it looked like we were dragging, the building got loud and willed our guys to a big win.”

Following a scoreless period that saw the Bobcats out-shoot the highly touted Red Stars 17-7, the Cats brought the crowd to its feet with the game’s first goal 1:50 into the second on a 5-on-3 power play when Donald Olivieri belted a rising one-timer from Adam Knochenmus, making it 1-0 Bobcats.

After the goal, Olivieri mimicked the popular internet meme of “Tebowing,” celebrating his score by taking a knee in the style of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

“All the guys have been telling me I need to ‘Tebow,’ and I thought it was the perfect time for it,” grinned Olivieri, who is tied for the most goals among NAHL defenseman at the Christmas break with ten. “[Wednesday]’s game was all about fun for the fans and a great experience for us players—I thought, ‘why not?’”

Bobcats captain Bryce Schmitt got a little good fortune to double the team’s lead to 2-0 with 9:32 left in the second when his centering feed to Knochenmus on an up-ice rush deflected off a Red Stars defender and in past goalie Evgeny Ivannikov.

Red Stars forward Maxim Kvitchenko received a bit of luck himself with 14:38 left in the third when a Bobcat defender fell down during a 3-on-2 rush, freeing Kvitchenko to the front of the Bobcat net to drag a backhander through the legs of Bobcats relief goaltender Aaron Nelson to chop the lead to 2-1.

Nelson and the Bobcat defense locked down, though, following Kvitchenko’s strike as the former Century High standout made numerous highlight reel saves and had a late Russian bid for an equalizer waved off by the referees when an early whistle halted play before a loose puck could trickle over the line.

Nelson made 15 saves but did not factor into the decision; second-year veteran Tommy Burke started the game for the Cats and turned back all 10 shots he faced in 30:28 of playing time.

“Both goalies were great [Wednesday],” credited Sedevie, a former goalie himself at Bemidji State, “Tommy was really steady and made some important saves to give the guys a chance to take the lead and then Aaron got his chance and made some show-stoppers to really pump up the crowd.”

KXMB-TV, broadcasting Wednesday’s game—the first local HD sports broadcast ever in North Dakota—named Nelson the “Star of the Game” for his big saves down the stretch.

Ivannikov and starting Red Stars goalie Rafael Hakimov combined for 34 saves on the night; Ivannikov was the tough-luck loser on the night.

The Bobcats will get the next eight days off—the longest break they’ll get all season—for the Christmas holiday before returning to action Thursday, December 28, against the Minot Minotauros at 7:15 PM at the VFW Sports Center.

Thursday’s Battle of Route 83 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.

Bobcat Hockey would like to thank its presenting sponsors for the Red Stars showdown: Scheels and Cumulus Broadcasting – HOT 97.5, 96.5 The Fox, US 103, Cool 98.7 and Super Talk 1270, the radio home of your Bismarck Bobcats!