Shepard Shines as Bobcats Ground Jets
BLAINE, MN – A day after the offense was the big story, Bismarck Bobcats goaltender Hunter Shepard stole the show Friday, turning in 23 saves on 24 shots to pace the Cats to a 4-1 win over the Janesville Jets at the Schwan Super Rink.
For the first time on the young season, it was the Bobcats who drew first blood: rookie Anthony Song chipped home a Logan Rivard rebound with 8:49 to go in the first period to lift the Cats to a 1-0 lead after one.
A defensive breakdown by the Cats’ defense over halfway through the second gave Janesville the equalizer, however, as Chris Deprez found Cullen Munson wide open on a close-range 2-on-0 and Munson rammed it past Shepard with 7:21 remaining in the period.
Just as it seemed the Jets would seize the game’s momentum, first-year blueliner Cole Souto dialed up an answer to give the Bobcats a 2-1 edge with 1:28 left in the middle frame, blazing a wrister from the left point that screened-out Janesville goalie Matt Jurusik never saw until it was in the net.
Shepard would make a critical save in the dying moments of the period, turning aside a one-timer by Kyle Patava with three seconds left to help preserve the lead.
With 3:20 gone in the third, the Cats’ top power play unit created a little breathing room at 3-1 when J.M. Piotrowski collected a Cody Longie rebound off the back wall and stuffed it home before Jurusik could recover.
As Janesville’s comeback bid intensified, Shepard’s stops grew more dazzling as the rookie netminder shut down golden opportunities for Jets forwards Adam Winborg and Drew Callin.
When Janesville bench boss Joe Dibble pulled Jurusik for an extra attacker, rookie forward Jared Turcotte made the Jets pay, patiently skating into the offensive zone before deliberately looping a low snap shot into the empty net at the 1:43 mark for the final score of 4-1.
Shepard’s win stands as his first at the junior level after collecting the 2014 Frank Brimsek Award, given to the top goalie in Minnesota high school hockey. Jurusik suffered the loss despite 25 saves.
The Bobcats will wrap up the Showcase Saturday with a 4:00pm tilt with the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Magicians. It will be the first time the two franchises have ever met.
Pregame coverage will begin for Saturday’s Showcase finale at 3:30pm locally on SuperTalk 1270, KLXX-AM, the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, and worldwide online at NAHL.FASTHockey.com, the official web television partner of the North American Hockey League.
With the 2014-15 season now here, demand for season tickets is at an all-time high; fans who want to lock in their seats for the entire campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!