Against the Wall

Late Goals Push Bobcats to Brink
BISMARCK, ND – Two goals in the final six minutes of regulation tipped the scales of an even Game Two in the Central Division Semifinals as the Bismarck Bobcats fell 4-2 to the Minot Minotauros at the VFW Sports Center, putting the Bobcats on the edge of elimination with a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-five game series.
With the score tied at two late in the third, Minot took the lead for good with 5:45 left in regulation while on the penalty kill as a miscommunication by the Bobcats led to John Snodgrass pulling hard to the right, waiting out goalie Hunter Shepard and wristing a low shot home to make it 3-2.
As the Cats pressed for a late equalizer with Shepard pulled, veteran winger Colton Kramer dove and poked a loose puck at the Bobcat blueline that skidded into the empty net for the final 4-2 score.
Minot took the first advantage at 1-0 with 8:57 left in the first on the forecheck as Jake Howie picked a tiny space over Shepard’s glove.
Just 63 seconds later, Oskars Batna drew the home side even at one, drilling a one-timer from Harrison Aide past netminder Atte Tolvanen.
An early power play in the second would restore Minot’s edge on the scoreboard at 2-1 thanks to James Mathias, who twisted in a cross-ice pass from Blake Lizotte before Shepard could recover with 13:28 remaining in the frame.
Bobcat co-captain Evan Giesler got the Cats back to level footing once more at the 5:19 mark of the middle stanza, swooping in to slam home a Tanner Salsberry rebound to bring the crowd of 1,562 to its feet.
Shepard kept the game tied with eight seconds left in the second, ranging quickly to his right to deny a wide-open one-timer from Johnny Walker.
All told, Shepard turned in 17 saves but could not avoid the ‘L’ in his junior playoff debut. Tolvanen needed 21 stops to improve to 2-0 in the 2015 postseason.
The Bobcats now face a do-or-die Game Three at Maysa Arena Friday, scheduled for an 8:05pm puck drop.
Live coverage of Saturday’s rematch will start at 7:40pm locally on SuperTalk 1270, KLXX-AM, the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, and worldwide online at, the official web television partner of the North American Hockey League.