Closing In

Mar 2, 2012

BISMARCK, ND – Licking their wounds after a tough Friday night loss, the Bismarck Bobcats took out their frustrations on the visiting Alexandria Blizzard, pummeling their archrivals 6-1 Saturday night at the VFW Sports Center.

With the win, the Bobcats’ magic number to clinch home ice advantage slips to two points and is down to four points for the 2011-12 regular season Central Division title.

“The message was sent [Friday] and from the looks of it, it was message received,” said Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose squad had numerous defensive-zone lapses in a 5-4 overtime loss to Aberdeen the previous night. “We just needed to get back to Bobcat Hockey: sacrificing your body, working hard, winning puck battles, playing defense—and that’s what we did tonight.”

Bryce Anderson got the Cats started 4:26 into the game, slamming home a back door feed from John Furgele as the fourth man trailing a 3-on-2 for a fast 1-0 lead.

Donald Olivieri followed up with 10:11 to go in the opening frame on a 5-on-3 power play, rushing past the Alexandria defense and rolling a backhander over the leg pad of Blizzard goalie Jacob Meyers to double the lead to 2-0.

Bobcat captain Bryce Schmitt pushed it out to 3-0 on the power play, redirecting a Castan Sommer 60-footer over Meyers’ shoulder with 5:52 to go in the opening frame to give the home side a three-goal cushion after one.

At the 3:35 mark of the second, Danny Ray kept the offensive avalanche rolling on the forecheck, one-timing a centering effort from Patrick Moore that beat Meyers to the stick side to make it 4-0 Bobcats.

“The puck movement tonight was really good,” noted Ray, who topped 30 points on the year (31) with a goal and an assist Saturday, “power play and 5-on-5 every pass was on the tape and guys were converting chances. There was just a lot of offensive confidence.”

Tyler Richter put a cap on the Cats’ five-goal spurt 53 seconds after Ray’s tally, guiding a low shot through traffic that bounced off the near post and in past Meyers for a commanding 5-0 Bobcat edge.

Richter’s goal closed the book on Meyers, who finished the night with nine saves and his ninth loss of the year. Jameson Shortreed, Meyers’ replacement, made 24 saves but did not factor into the decision.

Matt Youso gave the Blizzard their only goal of the game with 4:46 to go in the second, lifting an Aidan Cavallini rebound over Bobcat netminder Tommy Burke to make it 5-1 for the Cats after two.

The only goal of the third period went to Olivieri, who notched his second power play marker of the game with four seconds left in the contest, belting a slapshot over Shortreed that was initially waved off but later confirmed by the referees for the final 6-1 margin.

Special teams played a large factor in the Bobcats’ victory with a 3-for-8 night on the power play supplemented by a perfect 8-for-8 showing by the penalty kill.

“Everyone was working really hard killing penalties,” credited Burke, who made 33 saves to secure his league-best 29th win of the season, “guys were blocking shots and passes and Alexandria couldn’t get anything going. Everything was outside the faceoff dots when they were in the zone, which made it easy for me to get a look at the shots.”

The Bobcats get six nights off before returning to divisional play when the Austin Bruins come calling for a 7:15 PM contest next Saturday at the VFW Sports Center.

Saturday’s one-off against Austin 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 PM.

Season tickets are still available for the second half of the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!