Brown, Pike Rally Bobcats to Overtime Victory
BISMARCK, ND – Down by two halfway through the game Saturday, the Bismarck Bobcats’ offense sparked a rally that Willie Brown finished off 2:09 into overtime to deliver the Cats a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Magicians at the VFW Sports Center.
Staring down the barrel of a 2-0 deficit on the wrong side of the second period’s 10-minute mark, Jared Pike cut Minnesota’s lead in half at 2-1 with 8:45 to go in the frame, slamming home an Alex Strand rebound to get the Bobcats on the board.
Pike followed that goal up 2:58 later, snapping in a one-timer from Oskars Batna to tie the game at two and get the crowd of 1,193 roaring.
Just 71 seconds after Pike’s equalizer, Brown pushed the Bobcats ahead 3-2, burying a one-timer of his own from Aaron Herdt and setting off a fracas in the Minnesota end that resulted in 28 penalty minutes.
After each team earned another penalty over the next 1:15, Minnesota drew even on the ensuing 3-on-3 when Brady Heppner stole the puck in front of the Bobcat net and whipped it past the glove of goalie Hunter Shepard in one fluid motion to knot the game back up 3-3 with 2:54 left in the wild middle stanza.
Despite a 14-4 shot edge in the third and numerous chances in the final five minutes of regulation, the Cats could not break the deadlock—sending the game to overtime.
Just over two minutes into the bonus frame, Brown found a seam up the right wing and, when his move around a shot-blocker drew Magicians netminder Will Ulrich toward the left post, dove back to his right and stuck the puck in the back of the net on his way to the ice to lift the Bobcats to a 4-3 win.
Minnesota had early control of Saturday’s contest, getting goals in a six-and-a-half minute span from Zackary Taylor and Casey Jerry to seize a 2-0 edge through the end of the first period.
Shepard compiled 22 saves to move his record to 33-11-3; Ulrich suffered his fifth post-regulation defeat in spite of his second straight 37-stop performance in a row.
Saturday’s victory propelled the Bobcats (36-18-4, 76 pts) to a two-point lead over Minot (34-18-6, 74 pts) for first place in the Central Division with two games remaining. With the point gained by surviving regulation, Minnesota (23-27-8, 54 pts) stayed in a tie for the division’s fourth and final playoff spot with Brookings (24-28-6, 54 pts).
The two sides will reconvene next weekend to close out the regular season with a two-game series at Richfield Ice Arena, starting Friday at 7:15pm.
Friday’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 6:45pm.
Tickets are now on sale for the Cats’ run in the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs and are already going fast! Fans can buy & print their playoff tickets at BismarckBobcats.com, by clicking “Shop Now” on the team Facebook page or charge-by-phone at 222-3300 during normal business hours.
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