BISMARCK, N.D.–Bismarck Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie wanted to use the motivation of a shocking loss to North Iowa as fuel with the first-place team in the central division coming to town. It worked.
The Bobcats (15-20-3) finished their five-game home stand with a pair of wins over the Austin Bruins (22-14-3) at the VFW Sports Center. The Cats have won 5 of their last 6 games, with the North Iowa loss on January 22nd their lone defeat.
With the exception of the final five minutes of the second period, the Bobcats controlled a defensive-minded game from start to finish, and came out 3-2 winners.
Jake McLean scored with 12:54 remaining in regulation to break a 2-2 tie. McLean, the Bobcats’ leading point scorer, had already beaten Bruins’ goaltender Klayton Knapp earlier. McLean scored in the first and Owen Michaels followed in the second, both power play goals.
The Bruins were not fazed by a 2-0 deficit in their first game in Bismarck. Walter Zacher scored off a draw in the Bobcats’ zone, then Michal Jasenec tied the game with a shorthanded goal.
Austin’s momentum came to a screeching halt at the second period buzzer. Oskar Spinnars Nordin saw only two Bruin shots on goal in the final 20 minutes, one of the Bobcats’ finest defensive periods all year.
“I thought it was a well-played game with a couple bad bounces,” Layne Sedevie said. “As soon as you thought everything was going well, it was a tie game. I liked the way we battled in the third, though.”
Sedevie trusted Spinnars Nordin to open up the series coming off a loss, and the 20-year-old rebounded nicely with 22 saves.
Twelve different Bobcats scored, not a single player had a negative plus/minus rating, and a nearly sold-out crowd watched a 7-2 Bismarck win.
The Cats scored three times in the final ten minutes of the first period, with Quinn Rudrud, Ben Troumbly, and Calvin Hanson. Playing without Carson Riddle, the Austin captain who received an ejection in the second, the Bruins turned up the eat down 4-1 in the third, registering nine of the first ten shots on goal in the period.
“I thought Oskar was solid,” Sedevie said postgame. “Their defenseman pushed, they were pinching to the goal line. They are obviously a good hockey team and in first place for a reason, so if you do not respect it, it will bite you. I am proud of the way the guys battled. There were some big blocks, some character there.”
While Austin put a goal in to get within two, the Bobcats never let them pull any closer. Blaise Miller hit an empty netter, Eddie Shepler hit another, and Ben Troumbly added a seventh and final goal in the final minute–with Klayton Knapp in his crease–to give the hometown fans one more reason to cheer.
This is the Bobcats’ fourth sweep of the season against the fourth different opponent. The only team that remains is Minot, the next home opponent. The Cats host the Minotauros Friday and Saturday, February 11 and 12.
With two more wins, Oskar Spinnars Nordin is 6-1 on home ice. He has been in goal for three of the Bobcats’ four sweeps.
The Bobcats led for 88:07 of the 120 minutes on the weekend. They did not trail at any point.
These are the Bobcats’ first two wins against Austin this season. The season series is now 4-2, Austin, with the home team having won all six games.
NEXT GAMES UP
On the road at St. Cloud Norsemen, Friday and Saturday, February 4 and 5. Both games begin at 7:00 from the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex. Live streaming is available via HockeyTV (subscription required) and SuperTalk 1270 (free radio). All Bobcat road games are shown at Stonehome Brewing Company in Bismarck.