Slow Start, Missed Chances Cost Bobcats in Opener
BLAINE, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats gave up three goals in the first eight minutes of the season, then missed the net on nearly twice as many opportunities of their own as the Soo Eagles routed the Cats 7-0 to open the 2014-15 campaign.
It took the Eagles, who had already played two regular season games last week, just 99 seconds to get on the board Wednesday as Raymond Brice collected a centering pass and deked right to beat Bobcat netminder Hunter Shepard for his second goal of the year and a 1-0 Soo lead.
Good fortune would double Soo’s advantage to 2-0 with 12:44 to go in the opening frame when Trevor Cope would ring the right post of Shepard’s net, but the puck careened hard to the left, bounced off backchecking Bobcat forward Harrison Aide and in.
A mere 28 seconds later Chase Matson redirected a hard pass from Denver Pierce that beat Shepard five-hole and made it a 3-0 game after one.
The second period favored the Bobcats, who outshot the Eagles 9-7 in the frame, but critical missed shots on scoring chances for Cullen Willox, Evan Giesler and Ryan Callahan undermined any hopes of a comeback.
Eagles blueliner Evan Mills compounded the Cats’ struggles with 10:47 to go in the middle frame, blasting a low shot through traffic and in to push the score to 4-0 favoring the visiting side.
After more near-misses from the Bobcats on Soo goalie Sean Keating, the Eagles put the game on ice with goals from Sandis Zolmanis, Keegan Miller and Brad Pung in the third to seal the 7-0 whitewashing.
Keating recorded the shutout on just 18 saves. Shepard also recorded 18 stops in his first career junior start.
It stands as the second-largest largest margin of defeat the Bobcats have ever suffered to open a season, behind only an 8-0 drubbing incurred at the hands of the Santa Fe Roadrunners at the outset of the 2006-07 campaign.
The Cats will look to bounce back Thursday at 1:30pm when they battle the Springfield Jr. Blues in a meeting of the NAHL’s two oldest franchises.
Pregame coverage for Thursday’s interdivision dustup will begin at 1:00pm 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 the 2014-15 season now here, demand for season tickets is at an all-time high; fans who want to lock in their seats for the entire campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!