BISMARCK, ND – One night after recording their first overtime win of the 2009-10 season, the Bismarck Bobcats secured their first shootout win of the year Saturday, surviving a late rally to upend the North Iowa Outlaws 3-2 at the VFW Sports Center.
The win gave the ‘Cats their second consecutive sweep of the Outlaws and second three-game weekend sweep of the year as the first-place Bismarck side improved to 21-8-6.
Leading 2-1 after the second period, the Bobcats saw their lead disappear with 7:11 left in the third period as Outlaw defenseman Ben Danford guided a hard power play slap shot through traffic and past a screened-out Ryan Faragher to force a 2-2 late in regulation.
Neither side was able to break through in the final seven minutes of the third frame, making overtime necessary.
Despite generating a number of excellent chances and outshooting North Iowa 4-1 in the extra frame, the Bobcats could not find a way past Outlaw goalie Keegan Asmundson, forcing the decisive shootout.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the first two rounds of the best-of-five shootout, with the early highlight coming on a remarkable recovery helmet save from Faragher to turn away Micky Knox, who appeared to have Faragher beat but waited a split-second too long to shoot, giving the Fort Frances, Ont., native a chance to dive for the stop.
Faragher followed up his save on Knox by laying out to slightly alter a Zac Frischmon effort with his glove, deflecting the shot off the short post and harmlessly to the wall.
After Frischmon’s miss, red-hot Bobcats forward Dom Panetta took the ice for his penalty shot, angling slightly to his right before depositing a low shot under Asmundson’s blocker for a 1-0 Bismarck lead in the shootout.
“I don’t get a lot of chances in the shootout, but I’ve been noticing on penalty shots that every time we try and make a move, we don’t score,” noted Panetta. “So I decided to just keep it simple and take a shot.
“Watching game tapes, we know [Asmundson] is a 6’4” goalie and can’t get down as quickly as other guys; I just tried to get it through before he got down.”
After the league’s leading shootout scorer, Outlaw captain Ryan Bohrer, rang his chance off the post, Sean McKenzie clinched the shootout for the home side on a carbon copy of Panetta’s goal, zinging a wrist shot under the blocker of Asmundson for the 3-2 victory.
The shootout win is the first in five chances for the Bobcats, who are now 2-0 in games lasting past regulation in 2010 after going 0-6 after 60 minutes during the 2009 portion of their schedule.
Following a scoreless first period, the Bobcats opened the scoring on Panetta’s third goal in two games as the Grand Rapids, Mich., native stuck home a Sean McKenzie back-door feed on the power play 37 seconds into the second for a 1-0 lead.
North Iowa’s Derek Loisel tied the game up with a power play goal of his own, powering a snap shot off Faragher’s pads and in with 9:13 left in the middle frame.
Bobcat center Casey Kleisinger restored the one-goal Bobcat lead with 4:11 remaining in the second, turning an Outlaw giveaway into a low shot under Asmundson’s blocker.
“That whole play started when they couldn’t get it out of their zone along the boards,” recalled Kleisinger, who has two goals in the last two games, “one of their forwards tried to slash me but I spun around it and got a shot off. Coach Pool has been telling us all week to go low on Asmundson and that’s just what we all did.”
Faragher finished with 23 saves and forced his way into a tie for the most wins of any goalie in the NAHL with 15, even with Fairbanks’ Mike Taffe.
Asmundson turned back 27 Bobcat efforts but fell to 2-3-2 since returning the Outlaws from the USHL’s Fargo Force, suffering his first shootout loss of the year.
The Bobcats wrap up their extended seven-game homestand on Friday when the second-place Owatonna Express pay a visit to the VFW Sports Center for a 7:15 PM puck-drop in a showdown of the top two teams in the Central Division.
The 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 each night 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.