Resurgent Power Play Keys Bobcat Comeback
BROOKINGS, SD – The Bismarck Bobcats overcame an early three-goal deficit, scoring three power play goals as part of a six-goal rally to drop the Brookings Blizzard 6-3 Saturday at Larson Ice Center.
With the two points gained in the regulation win, the Bobcats (29-16-6, 64 pts) pull five points ahead of the Blizzard (27-19-5, 59 pts) for second place in the Central Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2013 Robertson Cup Playoffs.
Brookings dashed out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, getting running goals from Conor Andrle, Derek Docken and Aidan Cavallini in the first 14:19 of the game, chasing Bobcat starting goalie Aaron Nelson from the net after just seven saves.
Filip Starzynski gave the Bobcats their first signs of life with 1:13 to go in the first period, one-timing a cross-ice pass from Seth Blair on the power play through the legs of Brookings goalie Drew Weigman, cutting the Cats’ deficit to 3-1 heading into the first intermission.
“We’ve had trouble getting shots to the net on the power play all year, so we decided to change things up and get big guys like Seth and Matt [Anders] out there with Filip,” illustrated Bobcats assistant coach Garrett Roth. “Having bigger guys clogs the middle and opens new lanes we haven’t been able to exploit before.”
Nate Repensky cut further into Brookings’ early lead, bringing the score to with another power play goal at the 8:03 mark of the second, blasting a slap shot through traffic that beat Weigman to the glove side.
Rookie Evan Giesler, who scored his first career goal Wednesday against the Blizzard, evened the score at three with 3:51 remaining in the middle frame on a 4-on-4, fighting through a stick check in the middle of the Brookings zone and beaming a shot off the crossbar and in.
“Coach [Layne] Sedevie called a timeout after [Cavallini’s] goal and gave us a bit of a wake-up call,” said Giesler. “Everyone pulled it together and we came back as a team.”
Relief Bobcat netminder Bryan Nies made his biggest stop of the night with 56 seconds left in the second without ever touching the puck, forcing a penalty shot attempt for Blizzard forward Eetu Karvinen wide to preserve the 3-3 tie through two periods.
Repensky continued the Bobcat outburst 3:38 into the second, netting his second power play goal of the night on a rising slap shot through traffic over Weigman’s glove and in, boosting the visitors to their first lead of the night at 4-3.
On the night, the Bobcat power play converted three of eight opportunities, a season high.
The rally continued 71 seconds later as Bob Kinne made a point-blank redirect of a Jeremy O’Keefe shot to extend the lead to 5-3.
Moments after Brookings had a power play erased by an even-up penalty to Drew Brevig, Giesler raced up ice around pressure from Blizzard defender Brandon Parker and, when Weigman went for a poke check, tucked it through the five hole for the finishing touches on the Cats’ six-goal surge for a 6-3 lead.
Brookings attempted to muster a comeback of their own, volleying five late shots on Nies, but the rookie netminder out of Red River High School in Grand Forks held firm, locking down his ninth win of 2012-13 on 25 saves.
Saturday’s comeback was the Cats’ largest of the season, topping their pushback to overcome a two-goal margin on October 19 against Austin.
Despite 29 saves, Weigman suffered his first loss of the season to the Bobcats, having won his previous four decisions in the season series.
The Bobcats now return to VFW Sports Center to open a five-game homestand, starting Friday with their last game of the season against the third-place Blizzard at 7:15 PM, followed by a Saturday tilt against the Minot Minotauros. Following Friday and Saturday nights’ games, the Bobcats will be auctioning off their home and away jerseys, respectively.
Tickets for both games are on sale right now by calling the box office at 222-3300 or buying and printing tickets online at www.BismarckBobcats.com.
Friday’s season series finale 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 PM.
Pro-rated season tickets for the 2012-13 season are now on sale—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office today at (701) 222-3300 to reserve your seats for another great season of Championship Entertainment.