BISMARCK, N.D.–With Thanksgiving fast approaching, a 5-1 loss in Minot Wednesday left a sour taste in the Bobcats’ mouths.
Apparently, the turkey dinners washed it all away. The Bismarck Bobcats (7-15-1) responded with a pair of lopsided wins over the St. Cloud Norsemen (9-9) at the VFW Sports Center, their first series sweep of the season.
After falling behind early and not leading in Minot, the Bobcats never trailed throughout the entirety of the St. Cloud series. A defensive, goalless first period Friday led to a three-goal outburst in the second, with Calvin Hanson, Nico Chmelevski, and Jon Ziskie all scoring. Paul Huglen and Patrick Johnson tacked on two more in the third en route to a 5-2 win. The comfortable margin of victory is thanks in part to 17-year-old goaltender Ben Behrens, who won his first game as a Bobcat.
“I felt like I was seeing the puck well,” Behrens said. “The defense and forwards kept everything to the outside, so they made it easy on me.”
Behrens made 24 saves while allowing only two goals. The Bobcats had more shots on goal in the game, the first time they have outshot an opponent since October 9 against Aberdeen.
“I thought we played our best game to date,” head coach Layne Sedevie said. “I am proud of the guys.”
The Bismarck offense lit up the scoreboard in the first period Saturday. Nico Chmelevski, Jake McLean, and Eddie Shepler turned a scoreless game into a 3-0 lead in a timeframe of, perhaps symbolically, 7:01.
Adam Pietila and Drew Holt scored in the first six minutes of the second period. St. Cloud trimmed the 5-0 advantage to 5-3 in the third, but a Jonathan Ziskie bank shot off the center-ice glass into the empty net sealed the final score of 6-3.
All told, the Bobcats scored a season-high 11 goals in the series from 9 different players. Just as importantly, the defense held St. Cloud within the ‘magic number’ of 3 goals against in both games. The Bobcats are 6-0 when allowing 3 goals or fewer against the central division.
They have a chance to bring the story full-circle this weekend, too. Bismarck hosts Minot at the VFW Sports Center on Saturday at 7:15.