Last-Minute Strike Delivers Bobcats a Home-Opening Win
BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats withstood a furious rally by the Wenatchee Wild, getting a game-winning goal from veteran forward Tyler Dunagan with 1:16 to go in regulation to claim a 4-3 victory over the Wild on Coors Light Opening Night at the VFW Sports Center Friday.
After Wenatchee’s River Rymsha scored consecutive goals in a five-minute span late in the third to tie the game at three, the Bobcats spoiled the visitors’ rally as the Cats collected their second power play goal when Dunagan made a point-blank redirect of a Chris Diver point shot past Wild goalie Mackenzie Sawyer for a 4-3 lead.
Wild forward David Powlowski nearly tied it back up moments later on a scramble in front of the Bobcat net, but veteran netminder Aaron Nelson made a diving, right-to-left glove save to keep the lead at one with 25 seconds left.
A Filip Starzynski clear would end the game as the Wild would not get another shot on Nelson after Powlowski’s near-miss.
“We had a bit of a let-down in the third and Wenatchee got some bounces and took advantage of them,” assessed Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, who has now presided over three straight home-opening wins behind the Cats’ bench, “but our guys dug deep and found a way to get two points.
“I told them in the locker room after, ‘the good news is that we have 55 games left to work on it.’”
It was Starzynski who got the Bobcat offense kick-started in the first as the team captain bombed home a one-timer off a back-door setup from linemate Stanislav Dzakhov for a 1-0 edge with 10:35 to go in the opening frame—his team-leading third goal of the year.
“Our line kind of got away from hard work for a little while late last week, but we got back into a groove tonight,” advised Starzynski, who is now second on the Bobcats with six points (3 G, 3 A). “When we’re working hard and winning puck battles, good things happen.”
Not to be outdone, Dzakhov tied Starzynski for the team lead on goals with 8:26 left in the second, burying his third on a cross-ice pass from Jared Dedenbach on the power play to extend the Cats’ lead to 2-0.
That two-goal advantage would last less than two minutes, however, as Powlowski got the Wild on the board at the 6:38 mark of the middle frame, sneaking a low one-timer past Nelson and inside the far post to chop the margin to 2-1.
Rookie forward Brendan Harris re-established the two-goal spread at 3-1 with 2:33 remaining in the second, notching his first junior goal by blazing a rising wrist shot around a Matt Anders screen and in by Sawyer.
Wenatchee responded mid-way through the third as Rymsha picked up his first goal of the year on 3-on-2 rush as Dzakhov sold out to play the puck carrier, former Bobcat Joe Kaszupski, leaving Rymsha wide open in front of Nelson to tuck a short backhander through the five-hole, tightening the score to 3-2.
Rymsha would add his second of the period with 4:42 left in regulation, burning a rising slap shot through traffic and over Nelson’s blocker to tie the game at three, setting the stage for Dunagan’s late-game heroics.
Nelson stopped 20 shots en route to his third win of 2013-14; Sawyer turned aside 31 Bobcat attempts but couldn’t avoid falling to 1-2-0 on the young season.
The Bobcats and Wild will wrap up their two-game set Saturday at the VFW Sports Center with a 7:15 PM rematch.
Fans can buy and print tickets online at BismarckBobcats.com or call the box office at 222-3300.
Saturday’s series finale will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide on the internet television partner of the North American Hockey League, NAHL.FASTHockey.com. Pregame coverage will get under way at 6:45 PM.
Season tickets for the 2013-14 season are now on sale—and going fast! Reserve your seats for the new season, including the brand new Dasher Bar, by calling the Bobcat Hockey office at 222-3300.