This is the End

Close Calls End Bobcats’ Season
 
MINOT, ND – Two hard-luck goal calls went the wrong way Friday and the Bismarck Bobcats could not recover, falling 2-1 in Game Three of the Central Division Semifinals against the Minot Minotauros, giving the Tauros the series by a 3-0 margin.
 
The first bad break the Cats caught came 5:01 into the game as a slow shot from Tim Athley came in on net on a delayed penalty call on the Bobcats. Goalie Hunter Shepard got his glove on the Athley offering at the right post and wound up being pushed into the net, along with the puck; no goal was awarded initially but upon consulting with the goal judge a score was awarded and the Bobcats trailed 1-0.
 
In the second, the visitors pulled even on the power play thanks to a rising Tanner Salsberry slap shot that zipped through traffic and in past the glove of Minot netminder Atte Tolvanen with 12:43 to go in the frame.
 
A broken play restored the Tauros’ lead at the 6:38 mark of the third when Casey Johnson kicked a puck on the rush that wound up on Johnny Walker’s stick and then into the net on a 25-foot wrister to make it 2-1 Minot.
 
Just 67 seconds later, it appeared that Jared Pike had evened the game on a crazy bounce—much the way he’d scored in Game One—off a dump-in off the right-wing glass that somehow skirted the goal line and hopped into the net off the left post. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the referees huddled and the play was ruled offside to reverse the would-be equalizer.
 
Though the Cats had their chances in the final minutes to equalize, they were stymied at every turn by Tolvanen, who was officially awarded 19 saves amid his third postseason win.
 
Shepard fought bravely in the Bobcat net, turning away 35 attempts in defeat.
 
It is the first time since the George W. Bush presidential administration that the Bobcats will not participate in the Central Division Finals.
 
Bobcat Hockey would like to thank all of its sponsors, game night staff, volunteers, billet families and—most of all—the fans of Bismarck/Mandan for making Season Eighteen another smashing success in the capital region.