BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats have secured their third straight playoff season and the first-ever Titan Machinery Dakota Cup thanks to a 5-2 dispatching of the arch-rival Aberdeen Wings Thursday at the VFW Sports Center.
The win gave the Bobcats a final 15-11 margin over Aberdeen for the Dakota Cup and pushed the Cats (29-18-4, 62 pts) a full 19 points ahead of fifth-place Austin (20-26-3, 43 pts); with the Bruins having only nine games remaining in the regular season, guaranteeing Bismarck a return trip to the Robertson Cup Playoffs.
“Getting into the playoffs is only the first step,” admitted Bobcat forward/defenseman Grant Mindt. “We still have four big points available this weekend with Owatonna only playing one and Coulee Region off. We can send a message and get right into the thick of the race for first.”
Deadlocked at 2-2 with the ever-pesky Wings after two periods, the Bobcats seized control in the third as Castan Sommer triggered a three-goal rally with a power play strike, finding a soft spot at the bottom of the Aberdeen penalty kill then ringing a rising wrist shot off Wings goalie Hunter Leisner and in with 11:59 remaining in the third.
“I kept looking to Charlie [Mosey] to give him a pass but none of the defenders came to me,” noted Sommer on the incredible time and space he had to pick the corner on Leisner. “Finally I turned and got the shot off.”
The Bobcats wasted no time in extending their new-found lead as Dan Zawacki swung a cross-ice feed to Grant Mindt who wired a one-time shot past Leisner for his second goal of the night and a 4-2 lead for the home side.
Zawacki capped a big third period for the Cats, ripping a transition snap shot past Wings backup goalie Marcus Zelzer with 2:22 left in the game for the final 5-2 margin.
Ryan Faragher made short work of 14 Aberdeen shots en route to his 28th win of 2010-11.
Leisner took the loss, combining with Zelzer for 34 saves on the night.
Aberdeen opened the scoring late in the first on a shorthanded breakaway goal from Tyler Poulsen, giving the Wings a 1-0 lead with 5:42 left in the first.
Mindt responded with a low shot through traffic past Leisner, forcing a 1-1 tie after one.
Matt Gates put the Cats ahead 7:22 into the second with a shorthanded breakaway goal of his own, but Poulsen netted a power play strike five minutes later to make it 2-2 after two and set the stage for the Cats’ third-period heroics.
The Bobcats continue their three-game weekend as the Austin Bruins make their final trip to Bismarck for 7:15 PM games on Friday and Saturday.
Friday’s contest will be a special one as the Bobcats will be teaming up with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise funds for the fight against childhood cancer. The Cats will be wearing special edition white and green jerseys that will be auctioned off following the game. As part of the festivities, Bobcats coaches Layne Sedevie and Adam Gill will be getting their heads shaved. Paul Teeple, radio and FastHockey voice of the Cats, has pledged to join Sedevie and Gill if the Bobcats’ twitter account, at http://twitter.com/BismarckBobcats, gets 500 followers by game time on Friday.
Friday’s special contest will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at http://nahl.fasthockey.com/. Pre-game coverage will begin at 6:45 PM CT.
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2010-11 season! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on reserving your seats for the entire season as the Bobcats look to defend the Robertson Cup!
2010 ROBERTSON CUP CHAMPIONS