BISMARCK, N.D.–A strong third period proved to be one goal short as the Bismarck Bobcats lost to the St. Cloud Norsemen 4-3 in front of a sold-out crowd at the VFW Sports Center on Saturday.
Adam Pietila scored twice and Tyler Bautko notched his first career goal in the comeback effort. The Bobcats trailed 4-1 early in the third period before battling back. Bismarck outshot St. Cloud 13-4 in the third after being outshot 20-9 through 40 minutes.
“It looked like our guys out there for two periods, but I do not know where we were,” head coach Layne Sedevie said. “We turned pucks over, we were individualistic. Our power play … not even joking about it, but I asked the referee if we could decline (penalties). It is unacceptable, really.”
The first 40 minutes were simply not Bobcat hockey. After a tremendous month of January, the Bobcats did not look like that team whatsoever. Or, in Sedevie’s mind, a team at all.
“To me, we did not play like a team,” Sedevie said. “We looked so far from a team … we moved the puck in the third period. Look what happened … We have to move the puck like we did in the third period and really work. We actually won races, we won battles. We did not do that in the first 40 at all.”
The third period began inauspiciously with St. Cloud bolstering their lead to 4-1. However, the Bobcats began to control the possession and chip away. Tyler Bautko, a tendered player from Macomb, Mich. called up to fill gaps in the Cats’ lineup, ripped a tight-angle shot from near the goal line for his first career goal. Kyle Doll and Brandon Reller combined to set him up on a tic-tac-toe passing play.
Bismarck managed to get another one late. Vertti Jantunen set up Adam Pietila just inside the blue line, who sniped a wrister from the right wing with 2:31 remaining. The Bobcats did not allow an empty net goal with Hunter Garvey pulled, but failed to come up with the equalizer.
“The bright part of the night was Tyler getting his first goal,” Sedevie said. “It was a nice play, but a heck of a shot, too. Happy for him. I am glad he could come out here and experience what this program has to offer.”
With the Bobcats only taking one point out of a possible four this weekend, the playoff situation gets tougher but is by all means realistic. Bismarck currently stands in fifth place at 42 standings points. Minot is only two points ahead for the fourth and final playoff spot. There are 18 games to play in the regular season, meaning 36 points are still on the table.
“I told the guys in between the second and third,” Sedevie said, “I could come in here and scream, but the reality is that you have 18 games left … There are guys in that room (for whom) it is their last 18 games of junior hockey. So, what do you guys want to do?”
The Bobcats look to regroup before a tough stretch of games ahead. Bismarck takes its first trip to Austin, Minn. to face the top-ranked Bruins before a home-and-home with Minot. Game time is 7:05 p.m. on Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18 from Riverside Arena. Fans can tune in to every Bobcats game live on SuperTalk 1270 (free radio) and HockeyTV (subscription video).
“It is up to them what they want to do,” Sedevie said. “I think they are more than capable. We have seen it for the last month what this team can play like. It does not matter who you play, you have to show up and you have to play 60 minutes.”