BISMARCK, ND–In seven periods played at the Riverside in Austin during the 2013-14 season, the Bobcats could not score a single goal.
They would score three times in three minutes in the eighth to take the series lead Friday night.
A flurry that saw two Bobcat goals just 27 seconds apart, followed by a power-play goal by Tyler Dunagan (Maple Grove, MN) against the second-best penalty kill in the NAHL powered the Bobcats (25-13-4) to a 4-2 win over the Austin Bruins in Austin.
Bismarck was shut out twice at Austin to start November, and trailed 1-0 after a period Friday night before Seth Blair (Bismarck, ND) hit Matt Anders (Lafayette, CO) at the top of the slot with a terrific centering pass that Anders finished at 2:29 of the second period.
Nathan Flynn (Hastings, MN) then slapped a rebound past Austin goalie Nick Lehr at 2:56, just 27 seconds later, giving the Bobcats a 2-1 lead.
Austin countered just 50 seconds after Flynn’s goal, when Austin Nelson finished a long rally in the Bobcat zone with wrist shot fron the outer edge of the right circle to tie the game.
But the eventual game winner came from an unlikely source. Austin’s penalty kill was a blistering 91.4% entering play Friday night, the second-best in the league behind the Minnesota Wilderness. So, when Cory Dunn took a hooking call at 4:07 of the second, the Bruins probably felt little concern.
Cullen Willox (Eagan, MN) changed that with a brilliant crossing pass from the left corner, hitting Dunagan in stride for a one-timer that Dunagan blasted past Lehr for the eventual game winner, capping four goals total, three by the Bobcats, in 3:08 of gametime and delivering the Bobcats a 3-2 lead.
"It was a little too much up-and-down," said Bobcat head coach Layne Sedevie through a smile after the game Friday night. "We’re off to a better start than last time we were here. We played well tonight."
Sedevie has challenged his team to play well with the lead the last few weeks, and, following Dunagan’s goal, the Bobcats responded. Aaron Nelson (Bismarck, ND) stopped 29 shots for the win, and a solid defensive effort matched the skating of Jay Dickman, the third-leading scorer in the league, who had angles cut down by aggressive Bobcat play in their own zone through the third period.
"Nelson made some big stops tonight, and our defenders really did a better job of cutting down gaps. You have to be aware of where Dickman is all the time, and we did that tonight," added Sedevie.
Huba Sekesi finished the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:43, moving the game out of reach. The win propels the Bobcats to 54 points in the division, now just three behind the Bruins, with the teams meeting again in Austin Saturday night.
Faceoff Saturday is set for 7:05 p.m. Pregame coverage will begin at 6:40 p.m., with the game broadcast at www.fasthockey.com, and also heard on Supertalk 1270 KLXX.