Haar, Young Score Twice as Bobcats Tip Estevan 5-4 in Shootout
ESTEVAN, SK — Despite falling into a 3-1 hole halfway through the game, the Bismarck Bobcats staged a big road rally to come from behind and snare a 5-4 shootout win Sunday in their preseason finale over the Estevan Bruins at the Civic Auditorium.
It was the Bobcats who struck first, getting a power play goal from Brandon Young when the veteran blueliner snapped a low shot that beat Estevan netminder Nathan Alalouf in traffic with 9:50 to go in the first for a 1-0 lead.
Estevan evened the score just 1:51 later–also on the power play–on a scramble in front of the Bobcat net that saw winger Kaelan Holt bang home a rebound after three straight saves by goalie Will Ulrich.
Two goals in a span of 2:57 pushed the Bruins ahead 3-1 as breakdowns in the Bobcat transition defense led to tallies for Estevan’s Matthew McNeil and Cole Rooney with 14:52 left in the second.
Young got the Bobcat offense back on track, once again on the power play, eluding a shot-block attempt in the high slot and blasting a 25-footer in past Alalouf’s glove with 6:55 on the clock in the middle stanza.
Just 32 ticks after Young’s second marker, newcomer Cooper Haar forced a 3-3 tie, cashing in a defensive zone turnover by the Bruins for his first goal of the preseason.
In the third, second-year center Austin Junger gave the Cats their second lead of the night, snapping in a low shot on a delayed penalty call that beat Alalouf with 12:24 remaining.
Forward Jason Miller netted another power play tally for the Bruins, beating Ulrich on a 2-on-1 rush at the 9:28 mark of the final frame for a 4-4 deadlock.
Three minutes after Miller’s equalizer, Estevan head coach Chris Lewgood lifted Alalouf in favor of backup Matt Lukacs. Lukacs stopped the only shot he saw in the third to help force overtime.
In the bonus period, the Bobcats created major offense, but Lukacs turned away four more attempts to keep the game afloat past OT.
Neither the Bobcats nor Bruins were able to score in the first three rounds of the shootout. After Ulrich denied Lynnden Pastachak in the first sudden-death frame of the shootout, Haar got Lukacs to overcommit to the right post before lifting home a wrister to give the Cats the 5-4 win.
Ulrich combined 35 saves with a clean sheet in the shootout to win his only preseason start. Lukacs took the hard-luck loss despite five stops; Alalouf turned away 23 attempts but did not factor into the decision.
Now the Bobcats turn their attention to Coors Light Opening Night on Saturday, where they’ll face the Aberdeen Wings to open their 20th season of hockey in Bismarck-Mandan.
Fans can buy and print tickets online 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com or charge-by-phone at 222-3300.
Saturday’s season opener will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270 AM, and worldwide on FASTHockey.com–the web television partner of the North American Hockey League–with pregame coverage starting at 5:45pm.
Season tickets are now on sale for the Bobcats’ landmark platinum anniversary campaign: fans can get more information or reserve their seats for all of Season Twenty now by calling 222-3300.