Come On Up for the Rising

Mar 19, 2017

Bobcats Rise Late to Topple Blizzard 7-4

BISMARCK, ND – Enduring a three-goal run in the second period Saturday, the Bismarck Bobcats scored four straight of their own—including three in the game’s final 3:29—to keep pace in the Central Division playoff chase with a 7-4 win over the Brookings Blizzard at the VFW Sports Center.

On the right side of a 3-1 score after one, the Bobcats saw their lead evaporate in the first seven minutes of the second on a transition tally from Brenden Stanko followed by a power play slap shot from Tim Faulkner to tie the score at three with 13:03 to go in the frame.

Brookings then took a 4-3 lead at the 7:16 mark when referee Michael Menard awarded Brandon Kruse a controversial penalty shot; over vehement objections from the Bobcat bench, Kruse notched his second of the night—beating Bobcat goalie Severi Isokangas inside the right post.

Bobcat co-captain Zach Kennedy pulled even just 2:56 later, finishing off an extended forecheck with linemates Tristan Ashbrook and Grant Johnson by bashing home a Johnson rebound to knot the game at four.

Rookie winger Cooper Haar had a chance to put the Cats back in front with a penalty shot of his own, but rang the crossbar with a wrist shot after outmaneuvering Boyko on the attempt to keep the game tied heading into the second intermission.

It looked as if the contest was headed to overtime until Ashbrook collected the puck off a faceoff win by Johnson and stepped into a rising snap shot from the left-wing circle that beat Boyko high glove to lift the Cats to a 3-2 advantage with just 3:29 remaining.

After the Bobcats broke up a Blizzard forecheck with just over a minute to go, Haar sprung Luke Millen for a transition opportunity; though Millen could not keep his footing through contact from the Brookings defense, he managed to twist a shot on net after falling down that squirted through Boyko’s legs and in with 55 seconds left to push the score to 6-4.

When a late penalty was called on Johnson, Nick Alexander put the finishing touches on the 7-4 score with a long-range, shorthanded empty-netter with 14 seconds left.

Saturday saw the Bobcats fall behind 1-0 early as Kruse struck 68 seconds into the game, walking out of the left-wing corner to score five-hole on Isokangas.

With 13:14 left in the first, the Bobcats got an equalizer from newcomer Chase Hartje, who got his second goal in three appearances by zipping a low slap shot through traffic and inside the left post.

Second-year forward Michael Mahan single-handedly pushed the Bobcats ahead 3-1 three minutes later, redirecting in a Jiei Halliday shot on the power play and then—18 seconds later—snapped home an Alex Pollock rebound on the rush for a two-goal cushion with 7:09 left in the first.

Isokangas turned in 27 saves to pick up his 11th win of the season. Boyko made 30 stops but took his 16th loss of 2016-17.

The game also marked the Bobcats’ eighth annual Brave the Shave Night, where Bobcat players and staff shaved their heads to show solidarity with kids around the region who are fighting cancer while auctioning their special edition jerseys to raise money for pediatric cancer research and to help defray costs for the families of kids fighting cancer around North Dakota.

Now the Bobcats start their final four-game road swing of the season with a two-night series in at Northwoods Credit Union Arena against the Minnesota Wilderness starting Friday at 7:05pm.

Friday’s road tilt will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270 AM, and worldwide on–the web television partner of the North American Hockey League–with pregame coverage starting at 6:40pm.

Pro-rated season tickets are now on sale for the Bobcats’ landmark platinum anniversary campaign fans can get more information or reserve their seats for all of Season Twenty now by calling 222-3300.