Bobcats Erase Deficits, Top Austin in Shootout
AUSTIN, MN – Despite never leading, the Bismarck Bobcats rallied from multiple deficits Friday to edge the Austin Bruins 4-3 in a shootout at Riverside Arena.
On the wrong end of a 2-0 score to start the second period, the Bobcats got a lift from goalie Severi Isokangas with 26 seconds gone in the frame when the Finnish rookie denied a penalty shot awarded to Austin’s Jon Richards to keep the visitors within two.
Just 78 seconds after Isokangas’ stop, Tristan Ashbrook put the Cats on the board: collecting a loose puck on a net-front scramble and snapping home the rebound to make it a one-goal game at 2-1.
Despite coming up empty on three consecutive power plays follow Ashbrook’s marker, the Bobcats managed to force a 2-2 tie on an up-ice rush when Cooper Haar made a move to the net and left the puck at the left post for Matt Barry to tap in at the 7:32 mark.
Austin fought right back after Barry’s equalizer, reclaiming the lead 1:27 later at 3-2 in transition as Jan Stefka raced up the right wing and sent a low shot in past Isokangas’ glove.
A bit of good fortune allowed to Bobcats to knot the game again—this time at 3-3—on a Mitch Walinski wrister from the right-wing circle bounced off the shoulder of Austin netminder Jake Kucharski and in with 2:35 gone in the third, halting an eight-game skid without a point for the Rhode Island native.
The Bobcat penalty kill came up big late, negating two Bruin power plays in the game’s final seven minutes to force overtime.
Both teams carefully controlled the puck in the bonus frame, but neither was able to generate much offense—combining for just two shots to send the game to a decisive shootout.
Tobias Fladeby scored five-hole on his shootout attempt while Isokangas turned away all three Austin shooters, delivering the Bobcats a 4-3 victory Friday.
Less than a minute into the game, the Bruins nabbed a fast 1-0 lead when former Minot Minotauro Jack Murphy slammed home an AJ Drobot rebound with 51 seconds gone in the first.
Though the Bobcats created three grade-A scoring opportunities and carried the pace of play over the next 10-plus minutes, the Bruins got another rebound goal—this time from Richards—with 7:30 remaining in the opening stanza to give the home side a 2-0 edge that they’d carry into the first intermission.
Isokangas bounced back from allowing two goals in his first six shots faced to make 16 official stops—plus three in the shootout—to nail down his ninth win of the year. Kucharski slipped to 11-11-4 despite 20 saves.
The two teams will reconvene for a Saturday rematch—the Cats’ final game in Austin for the 2016-17 regular season—scheduled for a 7:05pm puck drop.
Saturday’s grudge match will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270 AM, and worldwide on HockeyTV.com–the web television partner of the North American Hockey League–with pregame coverage starting at 6:35pm.
Pro-rated season tickets are now on sale for the Bobcats’ landmark platinum anniversary campaign fans can get more information or reserve their seats for all of Season Twenty now by calling 222-3300.