BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats’ power play unit made the team’s homecoming a happy one as the Bobcats scored three goals with the man advantage en route to a 4-2 win over the Alexandria Blizzard Friday at the VFW Sports Center.
The contest was the Bobcats’ first in front of their home crowd since September 26th.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world, coming home and hearing everyone cheering for us,” said Bobcat forward Dominic Panetta, who finished with a goal and two assists Friday. “We came out hard, hit big and things started going our way.”
The two sides played a perfectly even first period, with neither team scoring, each goalie recording seven saves and both teams going 0-for-1 on the power play for a 0-0 score after one.
Early in the second, it was the visiting Blizzard who opened the scoring when defenseman Chris Franks fired a wrist shot that deflected off a Bobcat defender past goalie Ryan Faragher for a 1-0 Alexandria edge.
That lead, however, would prove short-lived as the Bobcats opened a power play blitz two and a half minutes later. With Blizzard defender Zach Fulton serving an interference minor, Bobcat center Tim Serratore threaded a no-look back-door pass to Ryan Jacobson who powered a one-timer into the open net to tie the game at one with 12:35 left in the second.
Another two and a half minutes after that, on another Bobcat power play, Faragher caught the Blizzard in a line change, firing a long pass to Panetta to trigger a 4-on-1 break. Panetta hit a streaking Sam Rendle for a short breakaway; Rendle made a deke to his left and beat Blizzard netminder Robert Tadazak to give the ‘Cats a lead they would not surrender.
After the game, Faragher said the Bobcats’ power play units gave him a big boost with their hot play.
“It’s a great feeling for a goalie,” said the Fort Frances, Ont., native, “giving up the first goal only to see the guys in front of you put some in and get the team back in front.”
After the second intermission, the Bobcat power play kept rolling when Nick Jensen took a pass from Panetta off an offensive zone face-off win and blistered a snap shot over Tadazak’s blocker for a 3-1 lead. The tally was the Danish forward’s second in three games.
“We worked on the power play all week in practice,” said Panetta, who registered both of his assists with the man advantage. “Coach [Byron Pool] was hard on us when we’d make mistakes during the week so we made sure to make our chances count during the game.”
Panetta followed up his two assists with a goal of his own with 6:40 left in regulation when Bryce Schmitt wrenched the puck away from an Alexandria defender and found Panetta alone on the back door for a one-time strike past Tadazak for a 4-1 Bismarck cushion.
Alexandria made a late bid to get back into the game when forward Grant Dye wristed a transition shot off Faragher’s shoulder pad and in with 5:53 remaining, but the Blizzard would get no closer as the home team wound down the clock with a dominant forecheck to turn back the would-be rally.
Faragher turned aside 19 of 21 shots faced and picked up the second assist on Rendle’s marker, improving his record to 3-3-2 on the year.
“The defense did a great job tonight, keeping everything to the outside and forcing some bad shooting angles,” said Faragher. “And when they did get a good shot, the ‘D’ made sure I got a good look at it and cleared away the rebounds when they came.”
Tadazak stopped 23 Bobcat attempts but suffered his first regulation loss of the season, dropping to 2-1-1 in 2009-10.
The Bobcats and Blizzard wrap up their home-and-home at the Runestone Center in Alexandria Saturday with a 7:00 PM contest.
The game will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. The pre-game show starts at 6:30 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.