ABERDEEN, SD – The Bismarck Bobcats captured their second straight Titan Machinery Dakota Cup thanks to a thrilling 3-2 shootout victory Friday over the Aberdeen Wings at Odde Ice Center.
Thanks to the win, the Bobcats lead the series 14-2 through seven games of the 12-game season series, giving them an insurmountable lead to secure the trophy in its second year of existence. In 2010-11, the Bobcats needed all 11 regular season contests to clinch traveling trophy over Aberdeen.
“We’re definitely excited to be able to bring home the Dakota Cup again,” explained Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, “not just for our great fans, but because it means we’ve done well against a very talented hockey team in Aberdeen.”
Dan Zawacki got the Bobcats on the board with his 11th of the year with 3:58 to go in the first period, gaining space as the puck bounced past two Wings defenders and into the slot for the Boulder, Colo., native to swat home a backhander for a 1-0 lead.
Aberdeen evened the score at 1-1 3:10 into the second on the power play when a Lane Mahoney shot beat Bobcat goalie Aaron Nelson for the equalizer.
Patrick Moore responded with a power play strike of his own, grabbing a back-door pass from Bryce Anderson and stuffing it through Aberdeen goalie Hunter Leisner’s legs for a 2-1 lead for the Bobcats with just 47 seconds left in the middle frame.
“Our power play unit was having a good shift and moving the puck well,” noted Moore, who is now third on the Bobcats with 12 goals on the year, “and even though Aberdeen got the clear, Bryce made a great play to get it back in and Castan [Sommer] drew enough attention in front to give me a lane to the net.”
Joe Mottiqua brought the game back to level at 2-2 with 10:10 left in regulation, redirecting a shot from Mahoney past Nelson after the Bobcats failed to clear their own zone.
Nelson and Leisner held firm over the next ten minutes and through overtime—including an Aberdeen power play during bonus hockey—to force the decisive shootout.
The Bobcats and Wings each scored on their first two attempts and a Cory Ward goal put the Wings ahead 3-2 after three rounds, but Nelson clamped down the rest of the way and Adam Knochenmus scored to force a sudden death round that Tyler Richter converted for the 3-2 final.
“Coach just told me to keep my head up and pick my shot,” recalled Richter, a former standout at Bismarck High now in his third year with the team. “Believe me, there was no chance I was going to try and deke, there.”
Leisner slipped to 9-11-3 despite 36 saves. The Texan is 9-6-1 in games against the rest of the league.
Nelson picked up his eighth win of the year and eighth victory in nine starts behind 32 stops.
The Bobcats close out their three-in-three weekend Saturday when they head north to Maysa Arena to take on the Minot Minotauros for a 7:35 PM New Year’s Eve showdown.
Saturday’s intrastate matchup 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 http://nahl.fasthockey.com. Pregame coverage gets under way at 7:05. Fans can watch the game—and all away contests—live at Reza’s Pitch at Third and Front in Bismarck, the official away game home of Bobcat Hockey.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!