BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats raised their 2008-2009 Central Division championship banner on Coors Light Opening Night at the VFW Sports Center but it was the visiting Alaska Avalanche who got the last laugh, riding a three-goal first period to a 5-2 win over the Bobcats Friday.
The Avalanche, coming in as winners of five their first seven games, kept their hot streak going to open the game when leading scorer Zach Smith swatted a Daniel Hildebrandt rebound through the legs of Bobcat goalie Ryan Massa for a 1-0 lead just 1:43 into the game.
The Bobcats came close to tying it on an early power play but Avalanche netminder Kale Robertson made two big kick saves on Bismarck deflections to maintain a 1-0 edge.
With play back at 5-on-5, the Avalanche got two fast goals from forward Berkley Scott, first with Scott banging home a Kyle Pichler rebound followed two minutes later with Scott burying a back-door feed from Robb Haider to post Alaska to a 3-0 advantage.
The Bobcats pulled to within two goals late in the first when defenseman Devin Schmitt rolled a power play shot through traffic between the legs of Robertson with 13 seconds left in the period to cut the Alaska lead to 3-1.
The ‘Cats dominated the second period, outshooting the Avalanche 10-5 and spending the majority of the frame in the Alaska zone, but were unable to find the back of the net despite numerous scoring chances.
Alaska got some insurance just 24 seconds into the third when Haider guided a Pichler rebound past Massa to make it a 4-1 affair.
Veteran Bobcat forward Jason Fabian got the home side back to within two goals at the 13:06 mark of the third, lining home a saucer pass from linemate Stan Smrke to cut it to 4-2.
Scott, however, sealed the deal for the Avalanche, scoring off a rebound following a Haider breakaway just 14 seconds after Fabian’s tally.
The Bobcats’ could not rally any further, cut off by strong goaltending by Robertson down the stretch for a 5-2 final.
Tempers flared late in the third when Bobcat forward Tim Serratore got into a fight with Avalanche defenseman Jake Parenteau, earning both players game misconducts for fighting with less than five minutes left in regulation.
Before the game, the Bobcats held a pre-game rally outside the VFW Sports Center, dubbed the “Bobcat Bash,” followed by a light show and a the starting lineup being brought onto the ice by a limousine from team sponsor Nightlife Music.
The crowd got its loudest during the pre-game festivities when the team unfurled their Central Division Championship banner from the record-setting 2008-2009 season.
The Bobcats will try to earn a split with the red-hot Avalanche in Saturday night’s series finale at 7:15 PM.
Fans are encouraged to bring their skates for the “Skate with the Bobcats” promotion following the game.
The contest will be broadcast live on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. The pre-game show will begin at 6:45 PM.
You won\’t want to miss any of the games this season, so order your Season Tickets, Family Packs and Group Night’s today by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300 or by e-mailing the office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.