Bobcats Edge Wilderness in Defensive Struggle
CLOQUET, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats used a stifling defense and timely scoring to eke out a 2-1 win over the defending champion Minnesota Wilderness Friday at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
Veteran center Oskars Batna got the Cats on the board 7:35 into the game, twisting a Nick Alexander rebound inside the left post before Minnesota netminder Luke Kania could recover to his right for a quick 1-0 lead.
Minnesota evened the score at one just 49 seconds into the second when second-year center Aaron Miller lifted a wrist shot through traffic that winger Jack Forbort deflected over the glove of Bobcat goalie Hunter Shepard.
“I didn’t think we played a full 60 minutes tonight,” admitted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “We let down in the second period and the Wilderness came at us hard. You can’t afford to give a team that good any space, especially on the road.”
Though the Wilderness carried the action in the second, Shepard turned away their next nine shots to keep the game tied through two periods.
In the third, tempers flared after a collision in the Bobcats’ zone left Wilderness forward Ryan Bloom injured, but the Bobcats took advantage of the frayed nerves: off the very next faceoff, Joe Tyran sprung rookie winger Nick Alexander for a short breakaway on Kania. Even though the Minnesota backcheck tried to chase the Dallas, Texas, native down, Alexander maintained possession and beat Kania five-hole to pull the Cats back in front by a score of 2-1 with just 6:40 left in the game.
After Alexander’s sixth tally of the season, the Bobcat defense locked down the defending champs, only allowing two shots in the final six-plus minutes of regulation to secure the victory.
Shepard finished the night with 22 saves to pick up his fourth straight win. Kania’s 16 stops were not enough to keep him from falling to 1-1-0 on the campaign.
The two sides will reconvene for the final time in Cloquet this season with a 7:30pm rematch on Saturday. It will be the Cats’ last non-division road game in 2015-16.
Saturday’s season finale will be broadcast live on locally SuperTalk 1270 AM, the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, and worldwide online at NAHL.FASTHockey.com—the official web television partner of the North American Hockey League—with pregame coverage starting at 7:00pm.
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2015-16 campaign; if you want to beat the rush of 40,000 fans for this season, now is the time! Call 222-3300 today to reserve your seats.
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