Another Shepard Shutout Drives Bobcats into First-Place Tie
BROOKINGS, SD – Goaltender Hunter Shepard earned his second straight shutout on 20 saves, backstopping the Bismarck Bobcats to a 3-0 win Saturday over the Brookings Blizzard at the Larson Ice Center that pulled the Cats into a three-way tie for first place atop the Central Division.
Despite struggling to generate shots in the first—efforting a season-low four pucks on net in the frame—the Bobcats managed to strike first with 1:41 to go in the opening period on the power play when Willie Brown drew in the Brookings defense before feeding a wide-open Oskars Batna for a back-door tap-in and a 1-0 advantage heading into intermission.
“I was pretty mad at Willie for not shooting the puck when he came across the slot, but he made a fool out of me on that one,” quipped Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie following his team’s third straight win. “It started with a good play on the wall and Oskars did a good job putting himself in the right position to score.”
Alex Strand doubled the lead to 2-0 7:39 into the second, using a Brookings defender as a screen in traffic to thread a low 50-footer that beat Blizzard netminder Josh Kuemichel inside the left post, adding another goal to Strand’s team lead at 14.
First-year winger Parker Mismash tallied his first career goal with 9:07 remaining in the middle stanza, running free on a breakaway pass from Jared Resseguie and outmaneuvering Kuemichel with a backhand-to-forehand deke before tucking it in low-glove for a 3-0 score after two.
Brookings pressed hard to get on the board in the third, but Shepard turned away all seven shots that made it his way, including a pair of dazzling stops on TJ Samec and Nick Ford near the nine-minute mark, to claim sole possession of the league lead in shutouts at five.
Now the Bobcats (17-12-1, 35 points) sit tied for first in the Central with the Austin Bruins (17-13-1, 35 pts) and Minot Minotauros (16-14-3, 35 pts)—with games in hand on both.
Combined with Thursday’s 3-0 blanking of Minot, Shepard gave the Cats’ their first back-to-back shutouts since Ryan Faragher held consecutive clean sheets against Alexandria and Albert Lea in October of 2009. It also marked a Bobcat shutout of every other team in the Central Division, a feat that has not occurred since Faragher and Jake Williams combined to accomplish it in 2009-10.
Kuemichel suffered his first loss against the Cats despite a strong performance, slipping to 7-6-2 on 21 stops.
The Bobcats now turn their attention to a home-and-home series with the Minotauros, starting with a 7:35pm Friday visit to Maysa Arena to face the archrivals.
Friday’s chapter in the Battle of Highway 83 will be broadcast live 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 pregame coverage starting at 7:00pm.
Season tickets are still on sale for the 2015-16 season at a pro-rated price; if you want to beat the rush of over 40,000 fans for this year, now is the time! Call 222-3300 to reserve your seats today.
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