Bobcats Miss Chance to Move on in Defensive Struggle
BROOKINGS, SD – With playoff advancement within their grasp, the Bismarck Bobcats only managed one goal en route to a 2-1 loss to the Brookings Blizzard Friday at Larson Ice Center, seeing their series lead in the best-of-five-game Central Division Finals slip to 2-1.
After a scoreless first period, Brookings drew first blood just 37 seconds into the middle stanza as Nick Ford tallied his third goal of the series in traffic to make it 1-0 Blizzard.
Just 3:41 later, Oskars Batna got the Bobcats back into a 1-1 tie on a 5-on-3 power play when the second-year center redirected a Harrison Aide feed through the legs of Brookings netminder Josh Kuemichel.
Things got testy with 10:11 left in the second, when an open-ice hit by Garrett Nelson set off a fracas in the neutral zone that earned the two sides a combined 50 penalty minutes.
Brookings reclaimed the lead with 10:30 to go in regulation in transition as Griff Jeszka slammed in a centering pass in the low slot from Chase Gamelin before Bobcat goalie could recover back to his right.
Following the go-ahead tally, Brookings retreated into a deep trap, holding the Bobcats to just three shots in the final 10-plus minutes to preserve the 2-1 win and stay alive in the opening-round playoff series.
After the final horn, a collision between Travis Wood and TJ Samec ignited another scuffle—this time in the Blizzard zone—with another 50 penalty minutes being doled out for a game total of 116 PIM.
Shepard took the loss Friday despite stopping 27 of 29 shots. Kuemichel nailed down his first playoff win on 22 saves.
The Bobcats will get another chance to move on in the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs with Game Four on Saturday—scheduled for a 7:30pm puck drop.
Saturday’s rematch will be broadcast live locally on SuperTalk 1270, KLXX-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.
Tickets are now on sale for the Cats’ run in the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs and are already going fast! Lock in yours for the entire playoff run by signing up for 2016-17 season tickets today.