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Through the Fingers

Repeated Rallies Can’t Lift Bobcats
 
BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats twice erased leads—of one and two goals—but could never seize momentum, falling Thursday to the Minot Minotauros 6-4 at the VFW Sports Center.
 
Just 3:31 into the game, Minot grabbed a 1-0 lead in transition as Blake Lizotte cashed in a 2-on-1 rush with Johnny Walker for his third goal of the year.
 
Bobcat forward Jared Spooner dialed up a response with 11:04 to go in the first, slamming a one-timer past Tauros goalie Atte Tolvanen to knot the game at one.
 
Minot was able to pull back ahead by a score of 2-1 a mere 2:01 after Spooner’s equalizer as veteran Jake Howie sliced through the Cats’ defense on a 3-on-3 rush and banked in a bad-angle shot in off Bobcat netminder Alex Bitsakis.
 
A mis-play on a loose puck by the Bobcat defense turned into a 3-1 advantage for Minot, as Quinn Fuchs reached the puck and played it into the low slot for a rising one-timer that found the back of the net with 5:43 left in the first.
 
After killing off three straight penalties in the second, the home side pulled to within 3-2 on Spooner’s second of the night: a low-slot deflection of a point shot by Cody Longie with 3:44 to go in the frame.
 
Evan Giesler followed up Spooner’s strike 1:28 later, tying the game at three by swatting home a Matt Perry rebound.
 
That tie would only last 21 seconds, however, as second-year blueliner Jon Lizotte restored the lead for the Tauros on a 60-foot shot through traffic that beat Bitsakis glove side for a 4-3 score.
 
Disaster struck 52 seconds later, as a neutral zone turnover led to a goal by John Snodgrass that pushed the visitors ahead 5-3 after two.
 
J.M. Piotrowski edged the Bobcats closer with 5:48 to go in the third, tucking a low backhander inside the left post, but a blue-line turnover on the very next shift gave Snodgrass his second of the game for Minot, to make it a two-goal game again at 6-4.
 
The Bobcats had their chances to get closer in the final five minutes, but Tolvanen rebuked multiple golden opportunities, including two point-blank tries by Bobcat leading scorer Cullen Willox to help the Tauros hold on for the 6-4 final.
 
Bitsakis made 23 stops but gave up a season-high six goals to slip to 5-4-0; Tolvanen secured his seventh win on 33 saves, including 20 in the third period.
 
Now the Bobcats turn their attention to the Brookings Blizzard, with whom they open a home-and-home series that starts Friday at 7:15pm in Brookings at the Larson Ice Center.
 
Live coverage of the Cats’ first trip of the year to Brookings will begin at 6:45pm 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.
 
Though the 2014-15 season is now under way, there is still time to order season tickets for the year; fans who want to lock in their seats for the entire campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!