MINOT, N.D.–The 129 previous meetings between the Bobcats and Minotauros paled in comparison to the importance of Monday night’s showdown. It may have been the biggest regular season game in both teams’ respective histories.
Game 60 of 60. Winner to the playoffs. Loser to the offseason.
Bismarck’s Ben Troumbly found Patrick Johnson on a 3-on-2 neutral zone breakout. Johnson’s left-wing wrist shot stung the upper-left corner of the Minot net. His 16th’s goal broke a brief 1-1 tie in the second period. Despite stomachs churning throughout the Maysa Arena, that strike proved to be the difference.
An Adam Pietila goal 30 seconds later made the nerves easier to handle. Tack on a pair of empty netters for the Bobcats’ Johnson and Brady Egan, and the visitors came away with a 5-1 win.
A seven-month-long grind came full-circle for the Bismarck Bobcats on an unforgettable night in Minot. The Tauros were the one team the Bobcats had trouble defeating all season, losing six consecutive matchups at one point. Minot stood as the only team the Cats had not swept this year.
Until the clincher.
Quinn Rudrud opened the scoring for Bismarck, putting himself in great company on the last possible day. Since the team joined the North American Hockey League, the Farmington, Minn. native is one of only four Bobcats to score 30 goals in a single season. Rudrud joins Eric Kattelus, Jacques Lamoureux, and Castan Sommer.
The Bobcats’ second half record is phenomenal in the scope of league standings. The team went 20-9-1 in their last 30 games. Their .672 points percentage, if over the course of the whole season, would be fifth-highest in the NAHL.
For their efforts, the Bobcats draw a first-round playoff matchup with top-seeded St. Cloud. The two play a best-of-five series beginning Friday. Fans can tune in to all games on SuperTalk 1270 (free radio) or HockeyTV (PPV video). Stonehome Brewing Company in Bismarck is the official watch party location for all road games.
Friday, April 22 – 7:00 @ St. Cloud MAC
Saturday, April 23 – 7:00 @ St. Cloud MAC
Friday, April 29 – 7:15 @ VFW Sports Center
Saturday, April 30 – 7:15 @ VFW Sports Center*
Monday, May 2 – 6:30 @ St. Cloud MAC*