MINOT, N.D.–For the first time ever, the Bismarck Bobcats have shut out the Minot Minotauros in a regulation game at the Maysa Arena.
Linards Lipskis made 36 saves, Vertti Jantunen scored twice, and the Bobcats blanked Minot 4-0 on Friday.
The Bobcats had shut out Minot on the road once before, a 1-0 shootout victory in 2015. This is the first time it has happened in regulation in the rivalry’s 12-year history, spanning 131 regular season games.
“I thought Linards was really good,” head coach Layne Sedevie said. “He made a huge save in the third on the power play. If you are going to put up a goose egg, you need your goaltender to make some great saves.”
The first period, while shot-heavy, yielded no scoring. It took an extended offensive zone possession for the Bobcats to finally break through in the second period. Defenseman Luke Roelofs shot home a rebound from deep on the right wing with 7:35 remaining in the period. That seemed to open things up a bit, as Patrick Johnson scored a power play goal two minutes later.
With the Bobcats leading 2-0 after the second period, Vertti Jantunen went to work to extend the lead. The Finnish-born forward sniped a pair of goals in the opening three minutes of the third period, including his league-leading fifth power play goal. The Bismarck defense preserved the shutout from there on out.
“I felt like we dictated play and had puck possession for quite some time,” Sedevie said. “When they get the puck to (Jantunen) in the slot, it is game over. I think we have some decent line combinations right now, rolling four lines. I thought all four lines had really good chances.”
The game meant a great deal for both teams, with the Bobcats having stolen a playoff spot from Minot back in April.
“Last year is last year, but we won game 60 in their building and sealed our playoff berth,” Sedevie said. “There are returners on both sides and I think you see the fire from guys that return for Minot. That is what makes this rivalry so good.”
The Bobcats look for a sweep of the home-and-home series on Coors Light Opening Night at the VFW Sports Center tonight. Fans can enjoy buy-one-get-one Coors Light pregame, a magnet schedule giveaway, interactive contests for prizes, and more. Tickets are on sale now at www.bismarckbobcats.com.