MASON CITY, IA – The Bismarck Bobcats watched three different two-goal leads slip away but managed to outlast the North Iowa Outlaws for a 5-4 shootout win Saturday at the North Iowa Ice Arena.
The ‘Cats opened the scoring 7:28 into the first period when Bryce Schmitt rifled a George Malliaras rebound over North Iowa starter Keegan Asmundson for a fast 1-0 lead.
Asmundson left the game with 7:43 left in the first with an upper body injury and did not return; he was replaced by Paul Moberg.
The Bobcats beat Moberg six minutes after his entrance as Sean McKenzie redirected a Sam Rendle power play shot through Moberg’s legs for a 2-0 Bobcat lead with 1:29 left in the opening frame.
North Iowa battled back, however, in a wild second period that saw Outlaw defenseman Ben Danford fire a puck past Bobcat goalie Jake Williams off a broken play to cut the Bismarck edge to 2-1 with 13:46 left in the second.
George Malliaras answered two and a half minutes later for the ‘Cats, stuffing a wrap-around attempt between Moberg and the short post to give the visitors a 3-1 lead.
The Outlaws responded in kind with mid-week acquisition Cam Severson whipping home a Ryan Bohrer feed to bring the game to 3-2 Bobcats with 10:26 left in the second.
McKenzie extended the lead back to two goals with his second of the night, beating Moberg five-hole to finish a picture-perfect tic-tac-toe passing play from linemates Casey Kleisinger and Aaron Quick with 5:41 left in the second.
It would be North Iowa, however, that would cap the high-scoring middle frame when a long pass from Outlaw blueliner Mike McDonald triggered a Markus Gander breakaway that the Italian forward converted to trim the lead back to 4-3 Bobcats.
The ‘Cats suffered a bit of bad luck in the third when defenseman John Avino tried to deflect a Micky Knox centering feed and inadvertently knocked it into the Bismarck net, tying the game at four with 4:23 left in regulation, eventually forcing overtime.
Both sides traded scoring chances in the extra frame, but Williams and Moberg held firm, sending the game to the decisive best-of-five shootout.
After neither team scored in the first three shootout rounds, leading Bobcat scorer Jason Fabian whipped a low wrist shot under Moberg’s glove to boost the ‘Cats to a 1-0 shootout lead.
Williams made a glove save while falling on Outlaw forward Dane Shaugabay in the fourth round and in the fifth round Gander lost the puck while trying to make a backhand move, sealing the weekend sweep for the Bobcats, 5-4.
It is the third shootout win in 2010 for the Bobcats after going 0-4 in the five-round affairs during the 2009 portion of their schedule.
Williams finished with 23 saves and improved to 3-0-0 in black and gold while Moberg took the hard luck loss, falling to 8-12-2 despite making 39 saves.
Asmundson did not figure in the decision, making 8 saves on 9 shots before departing.
The Bobcats continue Central Division play at 7:15 PM on Friday when the Albert Lea Thunder come to town to open a two-game series at the VFW Sports Center.
Friday’s game will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. The pre-game show starts at 6:45 PM.
You won\’t want to miss any of the games this season, so order your Season Tickets, Family Packs and Group Nights today by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300 or by e-mailing the office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.