Photo credit: Amanda Robak
ST. CLOUD, MINN.–Of all the recent victories the Bobcats have had seemingly no business taking, Saturday’s win at the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex tops them all.
Even with eight scratches having not made the trip due to injuries and illnesses, resulting in having only seven full-time forwards for the series, the Bismarck Bobcats defeated the St. Cloud Norsemen 2-1 in a shootout on the road.
Bismarck had called up three players for the two games, including Tyler Bautko, a tendered player making his junior hockey debut. Two defensemen, Landon Fleming and Ian Engel, played multiple shifts as forwards throughout the weekend. Even with the shuffling, the ‘Cats played with two open spots on the line chart both nights.
“I guess that is why you play the game, right?” head coach Layne Sedevie said. “You just never know. We were in the game last night, too … I think you can have a lot of doubts in your mind. You have to try to put that aside and go out and play.”
St. Cloud struck first in the first period via a power play goal with three minutes remaining. Bismarck ended the period with more shots on goal, however, and parlayed the better start into a game-tying goal in the second.
After hitting the crossbar several minutes earlier, Drew Holt rushed up the left wing and snuck a wrist shot under Ethan Dahlmeir’s left arm with four minutes to play in the second.
“It gives you a little belief on the bench,” Sedevie said. “We had been playing well. We had some chances and pucks laying around the cage. Holt can really shoot it.”
With the third period and overtime resulting in no further scoring, a shootout ensued. The Bobcats, who had previously been 0-2 in shootouts this season, did not mess around. Evan Hunter and Adam Pietila both scored, and goaltender Hunter Garvey turned away both Norsemen shooters.
“I have to give credit to Linards,” Sedevie said. “I love asking goalies. We have done it a lot more in practice … Linards said, Evan, Adam, and Vertti. That is what I went with. He said after the game, ‘I do not get shootouts wrong.'”
The Bobcats’ last shootout win came on November 13, 2021 in Aberdeen. They had lost five consecutive shootouts dating back to last season.
“I thought we got better last night as the game went on,” Sedevie said. “We got our rest last night, came out, and at the end of the day, found a way to get two points … It is so hard to have what has happened to this group. Big thanks to Sean, Owen, and Tyler. Fleming playing forward and Engel playing forward, it is not an easy thing to do. Pretty cool. All I have to say is, pretty cool.”
With the Bobcats avenging a 2-0 loss on Friday night, they stay within two standings points of St. Cloud for the fourth and final playoff spot with 20 games to play. The upcoming two-game series against the Norsemen at the VFW Sports Center, featuring a healthier Bismarck lineup, is guaranteed to have playoff positioning on the line.
The Bismarck Bobcats host the St. Cloud Norsemen on Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11 at the VFW Sports Center. Game times are 7:15 p.m. Fans can receive a free specialty Bobcats jersey at Friday’s Farmers Union Insurance food drive by donating three cans of food or $10. Limit one jersey per individual. Tickets are on sale for all home games at tickets.bismarckbobcats.com.