BISMARCK, ND–The shootout luck finally ran out for the Bobcats Saturday night.
After Nate Repensky (Duluth, MN) forced overtime with a dramatic goal in regulation’s final minute, the Bismarck Bobcats (17-7-3) forced six rounds of shootout hockey, but fell 3-2 to the Minot Minotauros (13-13-3) at the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck. It was the first shootout loss for the Bobcats this season, after winning four straight.
The high drama at the end nearly counteracted the a rough night for the Bobcats, as they committed numerous turnovers and struggled against relentless Minotauro pressure nearly all evening.
"We really strugged, there’s no way around it," said Bobcat head coach Layne Sedevie. "I didn’t think we had good effort, and Minot really outworked us. We got three of four (points) this weekend, that’s the positive, but Minot earned their two points tonight."
Two long-range goals were the extent of the Bobcat offense in regulation, but the last of them brought a tense Bobcat crowd to their feet, and preserved a point in the standings that served to catch first-place Austin, who fell at Brookings.
"That point could be big in April," added Sedevie.
With the extra attacker on the ice, Repensky reeled in a draw in the Minotauro zone, and blew a shot past Minot goalie Merrick Madsen from the center of the blue line, tying a game the Bobcats never led at 19:25 of the third period.
The goal changed momentum in the game, as Bismarck dominated the final seconds of regulation, and then killed a four-on-three Minot power play in the heart of the five-minute overtime to force the shootout.
"I thought we played our best hockey in overtime. Killing the penalty was huge. We earned chances and possessed the puck well," Sedevie said of overtime play.
But the Bobcats were on their heels throughout the night, never leading in the game, including the shootout. Jake Johnson started the scoring for Minot with 33 seconds of the first period remaining, wristing in a goal from the top of the right circle with traffic screening Bobcat goalie Aaron Nelson (Bismarck, ND) for a 1-0 Minot lead.
Stanislav Dzakhov (Moscow, Russia) scored his team-leading 14th goal to equalize in the second, redirecting a Ryan Callahan (Grafton, ND) shot from the left point at 11:37 of the second. Less than a minute later, Minot’s Jacob Howie slapped in an effort that hit the glass behind Bismarck’s net, and bounced right back over the crossbar, where Cameron Rowat punched the waist-high puck in the net at 12:19, sending Minot back to the lead at 2-1.
Repensky forced overtime with his score, and after a scoreless five minutes, the shootout followed. Minot again took the momentum, with Wesley Iverson sliding in a five-hole score on the first shot. In the second round, Huba Sekesi (Munich, Germany) countered with just enough of a backhand effort to slide past the goal line.
Minot captain Tim Donohue tallied in the fourth round, an edge that would stand till Dzakhov took the ice on the fifth Bobcat attempt. Moving to his forehand side, his shot was partially held up by Madsen, but the crowd watched as a slowed puck trickled beyond the goal line, sending the shootout to sudden death.
Again, Minot jumped on the Bobcats, Alexander Kasitsyn banged in a forehand past Nelson’s glove. Bismarck’s Tyler Dunagan (Maple Grove, MN) attempted to answer, but Madsen kicked the shot away with his left kneepad, and the Minotauros celebrated the win.
The Bobcats travel to Aberdeen Friday night to renew their Dakota Cup rivalry, then return home to host Aberdeen Saturday.