Boxed In

BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats watched a second period lead evaporate as the Aberdeen Wings used their star power and a hard-charging power play to trigger a four-goal rally to top the Bobcats 5-3 and level their best-of-five-games Central Division Semifinal at 1-1.

Shane Omdahl gave the Bobcats a 1-0 lead 4:09 into the game, redirecting a centering feed from Castan Sommer over the glove of Wings goalie Marcus Zelzer for the Cats’ sixth straight goal dating back to Friday night.

The Bobcats, however, became their own worst enemies late in the first period, starting a march to the penalty box that resulted in 52 total penalty minutes on the night.

Cory Ward, the Central Division’s top regular-season scorer, pulled the Wings even as Nick Miglio served a five-minute roughing major, zipping a wrist shot through traffic and past Bobcats keeper Tommy Burke to level the score at 1-1 just 2:36 into the second.

The Bobcats tried to battle back ahead while Wings sniper Steve Obarzanek served a slashing minor late in the second period, but failed to account for Obarzanek when the penalty released, giving Tyler Dunagan a lane to roll a long home-run pass to the Bobcat killer for a breakaway that he converted with 3:26 left in the second period.

It was Obarzanek’s 13th goal in 11 games against the Bobcats this year.

Shortly after the go-ahead strike, the Bobcats found themselves on a full two-minute 5-on-3 penalty kill, where Mack Ohnsted delivered a huge blow to the Cats’ Game Two chances, popping a Lane Mahoney rebound in past Burke with 32 seconds left in the period to boost the Wings’ lead to 3-1.

Another penalty before the end of the second forced the Bobcats onto another 5-on-3 kill, which the Wings also converted to take a commanding 4-1 lead as Ward once again beat Burke in traffic with a rising shot just 49 seconds into the third.

Frank DeAugustine registered a power play goal to try and kick-start a Bobcat rally, redirecting in a Donald Olivieri point shot with 9:33 left in regulation, but Obarzanek pushed it back to a three-goal game 96 seconds later by beating Burke with a change-up over his glove.

Obarzanek’s night ended after the goal as he was whistled for a misconduct penalty following an exuberant celebration in front of the Bobcats’ bench.

Bobcats assistant coach Mike Peluso, running the bench after head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie was given a game ejection for abuse of officials during the second intermission, pulled Burke with just under four minutes to go to try for a last-ditch rally. Omdahl pulled the home side back within two, turning a quick one-timer under Zelzer’s glove to slice it to a 5-3 Wings lead at the 3:14 mark.

Following Omdahl’s goal, the Bobcats held the puck in the Aberdeen end for nearly the rest of regulation but could not convert numerous point-blank chances on Zelzer. It appeared Ward completed the hat trick with seven seconds left with an empty-netter, but the goal was washed out due to a slashing penalty in front of the Aberdeen net.

After one last gasp from the Bobcats and John Furgele was rejected to center ice by Mahoney, the clock hit 0:00 with Aberdeen coming out on top at 5-3.

Zelzer came up with 34 saves to bounce back from giving up six goals Friday and record his first career postseason win.

Burke stopped 32 shots but slipped back to .500 in career postseason starts at 3-3 with the loss.

The Bobcats and Wings will take six days off before they reconvene for Game Three of the Central Division Semifinals at Odde Ice Center Friday at 7:15 PM.

Friday’s pivotal contest will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide on the official internet television partner of the NAHL, FASTHockey, at Pregame coverage gets under way at 6:45. Fans can watch Friday’s game—and all away contests—live at Reza’s Pitch at Third and Front in Bismarck, the official away game home of Bobcat Hockey.