Breidenbach’s Slap Shot in Dying Minutes Delivers Bobcats Sweep
BISMARCK, ND – A wild Saturday night non-division contest swung wildly back and forth until the Bismarck Bobcats claimed a 4-3 victory on a Tanner Breidenbach goal with 1:09 left to complete a two-game weekend sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears at the VFW Sports Center.
With the Bobcats trailing by one after an uneven opening frame, the home side rallied to knot the score at two on a power play just 1:44 into the second when Breidenbach notched his first of the night, sending a rising shot over the blocker of Brown Bears netminder Gavin Enright.
The goal snapped a streak of six straight games without a power play marker for the Bobcats.
With 1:32 to go in the middle stanza, the Cats claimed their second lead of the night at 3-2 when Luke Millen hit Noah Bormann with a no-look, turnaround pass with room for the 6-foot-3 blueliner to blast home a heavy slap shot.
That lead would prove to be short-lived: just 25 seconds later Kenai River capitalized on a defensive zone turnover by the Bobcats when David Kaplan found Ross Hanson all alone in front of the net for an equalizer at the 1:07 mark of the period.
A decisive moment came for the Bobcats in the 13th minute of the third, when a five-minute major penalty was closely followed by a slashing minor to put the home team on a 5-on-3 penalty kill against a Kenai River power play that came into the weekend with a league-leading 60.0% efficiency rating.
Thanks to big saves from goalie Vladimir Cibulka, timely faceoff wins and zone entry denial by the Cats, they were able to return to 5-on-5 with 2:34 to go and the game still even at three.
Just as the game appeared destined for overtime, Breidenbach raced into the offensive zone off the bench to collect a 60-foot pass from Millen and blaze a slap shot through traffic and in past a screened-out Enright to push the Cats back in front for good at 4-3.
Following the go-ahead strike, the Bobcats’ line of Matej Murin, Jared Resseguie and Michael Mahan pressured the puck deep in the Brown Bears’ zone—not allowing them to enter the Bobcat end until less than 15 seconds remained—stymying their comeback hopes and delivering the black and gold their first two-game weekend sweep of the young season.
It was the Bobcats who struck first Saturday, getting a goal on the rush from defender Zach Van Sant when the former Minnetonka Skipper took a centering pass from Murin and beat Enright five-hole 1:51 into the game.
Kenai River tied the score a mere 3:07 later when a turnover freed center Michael Spethmann for a quick shot that beat Cibulka stick side for a 1-1 count.
Kaplan then gave the Bears their only lead of the night with 8:53 remaining in the first, cutting to the net from the left wing wall and sliding the puck past the outstretched leg of Cibulka for the veteran center’s second goal of the year.
Cibulka made 31 saves on the night to get his record back to .500 at 3-3-0. One night after a perfect relief appearance, Enright took the loss 22 stops.
Now the Bobcats turn their attention to a three-game road week, starting Thursday in Minot at 7:05pm against the archrival Minotauros for the first leg of the 2017-18 Subway ND Cup before shifting to Brookings for two games against the Central Division-leading Blizzard.
Thursday’s rivalry throwdown will be broadcast live locally on Super Talk 1270 AM, the radio home of the Bismarck Bobcats, and worldwide at HockeyTV.com, the official web broadcast partner of the North American Hockey League. Pre-game coverage will begin at 6:40pm.
Pro-rated season tickets are still on sale for the Bobcats’ 2017-18 campaign: lock in the best seats now and be here for all the action! Visit BismarckBobcats.com or call 222-3300 for more info.