MASON CITY, IOWA–The Bismarck Bobcats kept their playoff hopes alive with a 3-0 shutout victory against the North Iowa Bulls at Mason City Arena on Friday.
Calvin Hanson, Adam Pietila, and Patrick Johnson scored for the Bobcats. It may not have been the prettiest display of the sport of hockey, with North Iowa outshooting Bismarck 30-13, but the visitors toughed it out and earned two points.
“It was greasy,” head coach Layne Sedevie said, “But we found a way to win. This trip is not an easy one, and I think Fridays are extremely tough. You saw it last weekend from them in our building, and you saw it from our team tonight.”
North Iowa limited the Bobcats to five shots or fewer in each period. Hanson started the scoring with a surprising tight-angle shot early in the second. Cal set up Pietila four minutes later for a 2-0 Bismarck lead. Johnson’s empty netter with 1:15 to play sealed the game.
While the shots were in the Bulls’ favor all night, the Bobcats’ defense prevented North Iowa’s stretch passes effectively in the third period. Linards Lipskis was the team’s best defenseman, and his 30-save shutout stole the show.
“He was really good tonight,” Sedevie said. “I thought he was square to pucks. I thought he saw the puck well … He made a lot of saves tonight that were clean. When you do not have it, it is nice to have your goaltender be there for all 60 (minutes) tonight. Linards was.”
In this current series, Lipskis has stopped 74 out of 77 shots to go along with a 3-0 record. The shutout is the Latvian’s third of the season and first against North Iowa.
The Bobcats’ 13 shots on goal tied a season-low, previously set on February 3 in a loss at St. Cloud.
Bismarck did not receive the desired help from out-of-town scores, with Minot and Aberdeen both winning. All the Bobcats have to do to ensure they will still be in playoff contention is win again on Saturday.
“Sometimes you have to simplify things,” Sedevie said. “I felt like we struggled to do that a little bit tonight and turned a lot of pucks over. At the end of the day, we have to be better tomorrow. Get rest, reset, and hopefully we have our legs tomorrow night.”
The Bismarck Bobcats are home on Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15 against the North Iowa Bulls. It is the final weekend of the regular season. Puck drop is 7:15 p.m. both nights. Fans can purchase tickets at tickets.bismarckbobcats.com or by calling the office at 222-3300.