MINOT, N.D.–The Bismarck Bobcats split a two-game series with the Minot Minotauros after a 6-4 defeat at the Maysa Arena on Saturday.
The game followed the same script as multiple others that have played out when the ‘Cats travel to Minot: Bismarck scores first, but the Tauros come back, and wins the game by one (not counting empty net goals.) It is the fifth consecutive one-goal loss the Bobcats have taken in Minot.
Bismarck built a 3-1 lead in the second period, thanks to goals from Julian Beaumont, Beaumont again, and Nico Chmelevski. However, Minot scored on the very next shift, and went on a 4-0 run spanning more than a period’s length. Vertti Jantunen’s 18th goal of the season cut the lead to 5-4 in the third, but the Bobcats could not find the equalizer.
“You can sit there and make excuses, but obviously we were in a good spot with a 3-1 lead,” head coach Layne Sedevie said. “It felt like we lost a little control, it kind of unraveled there in the second. They have to start learning from their mistakes. We were in a good spot on the road, and could not take advantage.”
The tide started to turn immediately after Bismarck’s third goal of the night, part of which was a deluge of penalties on both teams. 14 total power plays took place in 60 minutes of hockey, frustrating both coaches as well as the sold-out crowd. Minot scored three times on the power play on six chances.
“I think everybody has a right to be upset after what they watched tonight,” Sedevie said. “It was not a hockey game. I do not know what it was. I do not even get mad anymore. There is nothing you can do about it. Just have to try and keep your guys calm, and play the game.”
Both offenses thrived under the stop-and-go nature of the game. Each team registered 40 shots on goal and had stretches of dominant play: Minot in the second period, then the Bobcats in the third.
Linards Lipskis made 35 saves on 39 shots in net for the Bobcats. Minot’s Lawton Zacher stopped 36 of 40.
“I thought our forecheck was good,” Sedevie said. “What we (got to) play at 5-on-5 was decent. Our power play…we scored three last night but only get one tonight, and theirs gets three, and that is really the difference in the game.”
The loss finishes the season series against Minot, a 12-game set that saw the Bobcats either win by a large margin or take a close defeat, with little in-between. Barring a playoff encounter, the next time Bobcat fans will see the Tauros is in September.
As for the current playoff push, the Bobcats are still only two points back of the fourth and final spot with 14 games remaining. Further, Bismarck is just five points out of second place.
“They have to learn from their mistakes and that is the bottom line,” Sedevie said. “The sand in the hourglass is getting down there. It is the fun part of the year, it is the dog days of junior hockey, but there is a lot to play for. We have to make home ice count next weekend.”
The Bismarck Bobcats host the Austin Bruins for a pair of games on Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4 at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are on sale at tickets.bismarckbobcats.com. The team will hold a jersey auction for their black away uniforms immediately after Saturday’s game.