BISMARCK, N.D.–The game could have been decided early. After a flurry of activity in the Bobcats’ offensive zone, North Iowa’s Justin Mexico threw a puck in the direction of the net from the goal line. The puck changed directions, ultimately sailing past Oskar Spinnars Nordin’s right shoulder and in.
Less than three minutes into the final series before Christmas break, the Bobcats trailed. Enter a big scoring run that VFW Sports Center attendees have been accustomed to seeing recently.
Patrick Johnson, Eddie Shepler, and Adam Pietila each scored for the home team in the first period, and the Bobcats led 3-1 at the break.
The second period belonged to North Iowa, and it almost did waste to all the Cats’ good work before it. Despite 14 Bulls shots, including a minute-long 5-on-3 opportunity, Bismarck still led 3-2 after a Tyler Braccini goal from the left faceoff circle.
A sudden drop in the quality of play and time of possession only lasted for one period, though. While the Bobcats could not wait for the buzzer to end the second, they were geared up for the third as if none of that had happened.
North Iowa’s Sean Vlasich took an interference penalty three minutes in. After just five seconds of power play time, Adam Pietila slid a rebound past Hunter Garvey for an insurance goal. The Bobcats’ man advantage has produced five goals in the last four games, by far their most productive stretch of the year.
Pietila’s second goal, which secured his first multi-point game on the season–he has played all 27 games–held up as the game-winning goal. Michael Mesic put a wrist shot by Spinnars Nordin while playing 4-against-4, but Quinn Rudrud’s empty-netter in the final minute sealed the two points for good.
Oskar Spinnars Nordin made 26 saves in the game, half of them coming in the second period alone, for his first win as a Bismarck Bobcat. The Bobcats outshot North Iowa, 31-29.
The first half of the season ends tomorrow with Teddy Bear Toss night at the VFW Sports Center. We encourage everyone to bring stuffed bears wrapped in plastic bags, which fans can throw on the ice after the Bobcats’ first goal. Bismarck hosts North Iowa at 7:15, with Skate With the Bobcats afterwards as normal for all Saturday night games.