Shorthanded Strikes Guide Blizzard Past Bobcats

BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats’ deployed a perfect penalty and scored a pair of power play goals but the Alexandria Blizzard tallied a pair of shorthanded scores to claw out a 5-4 win over the Cats Friday at the VFW Sports Center.

After a 2-2 tie through two periods, the Blizzard got their second shorthanded marker of the night as Jordan Nelson finished a 2-on-1 with Steve Zierke over Bobcats goalie Ryan Faragher to give the visitors a 3-2 lead just 3:24 into the final frame.

The Blizzard struck again six minutes later, with 10:11 to go in regulation, as Nelson rang home a Tucker Coborn rebound to push the lead to 4-2.

Sniper Nardo Nagtzaam closed the Blizzard’s three-goal outburst in the third 63 seconds later, pushing the lead to a commanding 5-2 margin with his division-best 32nd goal of the year.

The Bobcats didn’t give up, though, as Matt Gates started the Cats’ rally with 5:05 left, taking a broken play off a blocked Tom Rizzardo pass and one-timing a snapshot past Blizzard netminder Jacob Meyers to slice the lead to 5-3.

Gates followed up 2:32 later, faking a pass from behind the net to Dan Zawacki and then curling to stuff the puck inside the left post to cut it to 5-4 in favor of Alexandria.

Meyers faced numerous chances in the final 2:33, including a furious rally with six seconds left with the puck sitting outside the crease—but his defense held firm around him and clung to the 5-4 win, the Blizzard’s fifth straight over the Cats and fourth victory in Bismarck, where they did not win once in 2009-10.

Alexandria struck first, 2:23 into the second, when Brent Bain floated a rolling backhander that beat Faragher in traffic for a 1-0 lead.

Nikolaj Rosenthal responded to Bain’s strike just 28 seconds later, poking a floating centering feed from Zawacki to force a 1-1 tie.

The turning point of Friday’s game came 3:50 into the second, when Alexandria Tommy Williams ran Bobcats defenseman Dan Kovar into the wall, drawing a five minute major for boarding but ending Kovar’s night with an apparent shoulder injury.

Losing Kovar trimmed the Bobcat blue line to just three natural defensemen in Rizzardo, Danny Ray and John Furgele. Grant Mindt played defense all night with the Cats already missing Nick Romanick, Dalton Spicer and Charlie Aus while Pat Coyne dropped back to defense after Kovar’s injury.

On the ensuing Bismarck power play, Alex Altenbernd stole the puck and forced a 2-on-2 into the Bobcats zone, finishing the play with a 30-foot snap shot that beat Faragher blocker side for a 2-1 Alexandria lead.

Rosenthal answered again for the Bobcats, getting his second equalizer of the middle frame on the power play when he scooped a Rizzardo rebound over a sprawling Meyers to force a 2-2 tie heading into the second intermission.

Faragher managed just 14 saves in his 10th loss of the year while Meyers stopped 24 shots to gain his sixth victory of 2010-11.

The Bobcats will look to halt their losing slide against the Blizzard with Saturday’s series finale, scheduled for a 7:15 puck drop at the VFW Sports Center.

The contest will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at http://nahl.fasthockey.com/. Pre-game coverage will begin at 6:45 PM CT.

Season tickets are now on sale for the 2010-11 season! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email gobobcathockey@aol.com for more information on reserving your seats for the entire season as the Bobcats look to defend the Robertson Cup!

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2010 ROBERTSON CUP CHAMPIONS