Bobcats Shake Off Adversity, Top Wings

BISMARCK, ND–Shrugging off adversity, a shorthanded lineup, and a three-goal surge by Aberdeen, the Bismarck Bobcats won a gritty battle 5-4 at the Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen.

Four minutes of a five-on-three Wings power play threatened to undo a powerful two-goal first period Bobcat start on hostile ice, but Bobcat stopper Aaron Nelson (Bismarck, ND) allowed just one Wings’ score, a key sequence in preserving the win.

Matt Anders (Lafayette, CO) scored late in the period to tie the game, Huba Sekesi (Munich, Germany) then found the net early in the third, and, with a 4-4 tie on the board late, Evan Giesler (Naperville, IL) ended a torrid flurry in the Aberdeen zone with a back-handed game winner.

"We were hit with adversity, and killing four minutes of five-on-three only allowing one goal was huge," Bobcat head coach Layne Sedevie said of the effort. "We started well, then we got away from what works, but we found a way to get out of here with two points tonight."

As much as the Bobcats may have moved away from what works, they were moved as far by three penalties with play stopped in the second period. After first-period goals by Cullen Willox (Eagan, MN) and Joonas Huovinen (Oulu, Finland) were answered by a pair of TJ Roo scores in the second, Bobcat defender Ryan Callahan (Grafton, ND) was ejected on a game misconduct for elbowing, and Anders and Sedevie were hit with unsportsmanlike conducts, leading to the four-minute, two-man Wings advantage.

Bjorn Sigardarson took advantage with a goal near the end of the two-man advantage, giving the Wings their lone lead of the night at 3-2, a goal that energized the home crowd.

But the Bobcats recovered and fought the game back to even with Jacob McDowell (Dimondale, MI) launched the puck off the back wall, with the rebound lining back to Anders trailing the rush. Anders slapped it back Henry Dill, tying the game at 18:58 of the second, sending the Bobcats to the locker room with momentum.

Sekesi earned the lead back for the Bobcats in the third. Camping on the top of Aberdeen’s crease, he found the puck flying his direction from behind the net, and quickly pushed it past Dill for a 4-3 edge at 6:08 of the third.

Less than three minutes later, the lead would be lost when Sigurdarson found a loose puck beyond two Bobcat defenders for a break against Nelson, beating Nelson’s stick side at 8:51 to re-tie at 4-4.

The gamewinner resulted from an onslaught of Bobcat pressure that the Wings could not contain. Giesler raced in the Wings zone and attempted a long-range shot that was wide. A bitter fight for possession behind the net saw the puck float to Bobcat defender Tanner Salsberry (Plainfield, IL) on the right point. He promptly launched in a slap.

Dill knocked the shot down, but allowed a rebound with two Bobcats crashing the crease. After several swipes, Giesler used the backhand to punch in the gamewinner at 16:36 of the third for the 5-4 Bobcat edge.

Aberdeen emptied the next with just under two minutes remaining, and had chances, including a wide open net to the glove side of Nelson at the end of regulation. But the Bismarck native dove back to the back door and snared the final shot with the glove hand at the end of regulation to preserve the win.

The win keeps the Bobcats even with the Austin Bruins for the NAHL Central Division lead with 39 points. The Bobcats face Aberdeen again Saturday, this time at the VFW Sports Center. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.