ABERDEEN, S.D.–The Bobcats were not supposed to win.
Trailing 2-0 after two periods and playing with only ten forwards dressed, the Bismarck Bobcats mounted a comeback to defeat the Aberdeen Wings 3-2 at the Odde Ice Center on Saturday.
Evan Hunter ripped a wrist shot from the right circle with 1:54 remaining in sudden-death overtime to seal the weekend sweep. Patrick Johnson and Adam Pietila scored in the third period to force OT.
The Bobcats kept a half-dozen players back in Bismarck with injuries and illnesses ravaging the lineup. In addition, Calvin Hanson was ineligible to play after taking a match penalty on Friday. With only 17 skaters, many of whom were not 100% healthy, the ‘Cats completed as impressive a comeback–and victory–as we have seen all season.
“I was pretty light with (the team) in the locker room after two,” head coach Layne Sedevie said. “I said, hey, whether we win or lose, I am proud of them and the way they have battled with how short our bench is. We have a defenseman (Ian Engel) playing forward, a little bit of everything, but hey, we found a way to win.”
Aberdeen scored a goal in each of the first two periods, but only outshot the Bobcats by five. Bismarck began to control the puck more in the second period, but could not connect on passes deep in the offensive zone. In the third, the passing got better, and the visitors struck twice to tie the game.
“We did not play (poorly) tonight,” Sedevie said. “I thought we dictated play in the second period and had some chances, but just could not find the back of the net. Then, we got pucks on net in the third.”
Overtime has not been a bright spot for the Bobcats in the 2022-23 season. Bismarck entered play at just 1-5 in games decided after regulation. However, Sedevie added more 3-on-3 to his team’s practice schedule this week. It paid off.
“I told the guys on bench, we are not good in overtime and not good in a shootout,” Sedevie said. “But hey, what the heck, we came back. Might as well change our luck tonight, so let us put it all on red and let it ride.”
After each team recorded one shot on goal in overtime, Hunter carried the puck from the neutral zone down the right wing. The 18-year-old dangled a Wings defenseman in the right circle before firing a shot to the top-right corner.
Hunter did not have a game-winning goal of any kind until Saturday’s overtime tally.
“(Evan) stepped up,” Sedevie said. “That is for sure, but man, what a goal. I do not care if you are an Aberdeen fan … they probably do not like it, but what a beauty. A little dipsy-doo, then top shelf.”
Wings fans sure did not appreciate what the Bobcats accomplished over the past two weeks. Bismarck won nine out of a possible ten points in a five-game, two-week set against their border rivals. Additionally, the Odde Ice Center became a second home for the ‘Cats this season. The Bobcats’ 5-1 record in Aberdeen is their best mark since Scott Langer became the Wings’ head coach in 2016.
“It just seemed like everything was against us,” Sedevie said. “But hey, I do not care, that is four points and nine out of ten, so adios, Aberdeen.”