The Longest Yard

Bobcats Never Trail but Fall in Shootout
 
CLOQUET, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats could not take advantage of a strong night on the power play, letting a third-period lead get away en route to a 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wilderness at Northwoods Credit Union Arena, running their season-long losing streak to five games.
 
As the Bobcats buzzed around the Wildnerness net to open the contest, Tanner Salsberry pushed the visitors ahead 1-0 with 12:22 left in the first on the power play, crushing a one-timer from Evan Giesler home for his third goal in five games.
 
Just 2:20 later, however, a defensive zone breakdown left Isak Bergland open for a one-timer that beat Bobcat goalie Alex Bitsakis glove side to immediately even the score at one.
 
Another power play strike returned the lead to the Bobcats 9:56 into the second as Cullen Willox powered a side-of-the-net feed from Salsberry through Wilderness netminder Brock Kautz and in.
 
Bergland had the answer with just a minute gone in the third, using the Bobcat defense as a screen and wristing a long shot in transition that bounced in off Bitsakis for a 2-2 tie.
 
Despite a 14-5 shot advantage in the third, Minnesota could not solve Bitsakis and the game would head to overtime.
 
By earning the point for surviving regulation, the Bobcats’ magic number to clinch third place was reduced to one.
 
Neither side could take advantage of chances in the extra frame, necessitating the shootout.
 
Evan Giesler and Logan Rivard both registered glove-side snipes in the shootout to help the Cats tread water amid goals from Janis Jaks and Aaron Miller, but a fifth-round strike delivered by rookie Tyler Cline gave the Wilderness the 3-2 win.
 
Bitsakis turned a strong 32-save night but couldn’t avoid his sixth straight “L.” Kautz needed a mere 19 stops for his 13th win of his final junior season.
 
The two sides will reconvene Saturday at 7:05pm as the Cats close out their road schedule for the 2014-15 regular season.
 
Live coverage of the Bobcats’ road finale will start at 6:40pm 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.
 
Stay tuned to BismarckBobcats.com later this week for 2015 Robertson Cup Playoff ticket information!