DAWSON CREEK, BC – Trailing 2-1 over halfway through the game, the Bismarck Bobcats rattled off four unanswered goals and rode a hot penalty killing unit to a 5-2 win Friday at the Encana Centre.
“We weren’t very strong through 40 minutes, but we found a way to respond,” admitted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “And it’s an old hockey cliché, but it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish—and tonight we were finishers.”
Rage forward Kelyn Opel got the home side in front for the first time with 9:46 to go in the second period, converting a defensive zone turnover by the Cats into an unassisted strike through the legs of Bobcat netminder Tommy Burke.
It took just over three minutes for the Bobcats to pull level, though, as Adam Knochenmus wrestled for a Bryce Schmitt rebound and out-waited Rage goalie Edward Dyson to put home his first goal as a Bobcat and force a 2-2 tie with 6:25 left in the second.
Coming out of the second intermission, the Bobcats blitzed the Rage for three goals in four minutes, starting with Frank DeAugustine crushing home his sixth of the season off a wonderful centering feed from Dan Zawacki that pushed the Cats ahead 3-2 just one minute into the third.
Patrick Moore followed 1:23 later, tipping a Danny Ray shot over Dyson and in to double the lead to 4-2.
Moore would finish up the scoring 3:27 into the final frame with another deflection, this time redirecting a rising shot from Castan Sommer past Dyson’s shoulder for the final 5-2 margin.
The Bobcats, however, did not have an easy road to the final score, taking five penalties in the last 15 minutes of the game, forcing Burke to make numerous highlight reel saves to keep the advantage at three goals in a hostile barn.
On the night, the Bobcat penalty kill was a perfect 8-for-8 while the power play was a strong 2-for-7 to give a strong special teams vibe to the Cats’ fifth straight victory.
“I was pleased with the effort by the ‘PK,’ for sure,” noted Sedevie, “especially later on by Tommy Burke. The PK has gotten sharp, but we really need to stay out of the box. Eight penalties is way too many, especially on the road.”
Sommer’s sixth goal of 2011-12 got the Cats started mid-way through the first as the assistant captain found some time and space on the power play from a back-door pass by defender Jeremy O’Keefe and sniped the top left corner on Dyson 11:53 into the game.
Opel’s first of the game came 50 seconds into the second as he banged home a Bob Turnbull rebound for a 1-1 tie, setting the stage for the contest’s wild second half.
Burke made 24 saves en route to his fifth straight win in net while Dyson made numerous head-turning stops on his way to 25 saves and the hard-luck loss.
The Cats and Rage will wrap up their two-game cross-border series Saturday with a 9:00 PM CT start at the Encana Centre.
Saturday’s interdivision finale 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 8:30.
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for this season!
2011 CENTRAL DIVISION CHAMPIONS