We’re Going Streaking!

BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats extended their Central Division lead to a season-high 15 points thanks to a 3-2 win Friday over the visiting Austin Bruins, sweeping the two-game series from the Bruins at the VFW Sports Center.

“It wasn’t a pretty series, but the most important thing is that we got all four points against an Austin team that has played really well against us this year,” explained Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “We still have some things to figure out in our defensive end, but that will come with experience.”

Dan Zawacki tallied his fourth goal in as many games just 95 seconds into the contest, taking an entry feed from Adam Knochenmus and weaving through defenders to beat Bruins goalie Tyler Bruggeman five-hole for a quick 1-0 lead for the Bobcats.

Austin fought right back to tie the game 1-1 6:01 later as Bobcat goalie Tommy Burke turned over the puck when ranging too far out of his net and couldn’t recover before Bruins leading scorer Brandon Wahlin banged in his 10th of the year.

“I just tried to forget that first goal—put it out of my mind,” recalled Burke, who secured his 19th win of the season behind 34 saves. “I knew our offense would score again, so I just had to calm down and keep everything in front of me.”

Burke’s offense picked him up 4:10 into the second when rookie sensation Shane Omdahl smacked a Grant Mindt rebound past an out-of-position Bruggeman to push the Cats ahead 2-1.

Mindt’s effort to get the puck on net was a welcome sign for the Bobcats, who struggled to put rubber on Bruggeman early in Thursday’s 4-3 shootout win over Austin.

“We didn’t get enough pucks to the net [Thursday], so Grant getting it through and creating the rebound turned out to be huge,” noted Omdahl, who now has two goals in three games after enduring a 17-game goalless drought that spanned all of November and most of December. “We knew coming in we needed more shots and more traffic and [Friday]’s game showed why.”

The Bobcat lead lasted just 36 seconds, though, as the Bruins avoided an interference call as Mindt got held up trying to block Connor Quinn’s shot that pinballed off a sprawling John Simonson and in past Burke to knot the game at two.

Castan Sommer continued the see-saw affair with 12:42 to go in the second, putting the Bobcats ahead to stay at 3-2 with a redirect of a John Furgele shot on the power play.

“Austin has a really good penalty kill, they pursue well so the guys in front on the ‘PP’—Bryce Schmitt [who scored a power play goal Thursday] and myself—become really important against them,” pointed out Sommer, who leads the Cats with 18 goals on 2011-12. “We keep the defense honest in front and when the guys at the point create good shots, good things happen… like two deflection goals on the weekend.”

Burke and Bruggeman kept their respective opponents at bay the rest of the way, combining for 28 saves over the final 30 minutes of play to give the game its final 3-2 margin.

Bruggeman turned aside 36 Bobcat shots—totaling an eye-popping 78 saves in the series—but could not avoid his seventh loss of the season.

The Bobcats get six days off before they open their final interdivision weekend of 2011-12 when the Coulee Region Chill—moved to the Midwest Division this season—come calling for two games starting Friday at 7:15 PM.

Friday’s rematch of the 2011 Central Division Finals will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide on the official internet television partner of the NAHL, FASTHockey, at http://nahl.fasthockey.com. Pregame coverage gets under way at 6:45.

Season tickets are still available for the second half of the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email gobobcathockey@aol.com for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!