BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats started hot and never looked back, dispatching the Minot Minotauros 5-1 Saturday at the VFW Sports Center to sweep a home-and-home weekend from their in-state rivals.
Frank DeAugustine put the home side ahead 6:59 into the game, picking an Adam Knochenmus rebound out of midair and batting it in past Minot goalie Jake Hebda for a 1-0 Bobcat lead.
Following the goal, DeAugustine left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return for precautionary reasons.
The Bobcats doubled their lead to 2-0 on the power play 70 seconds later as Patrick Moore fed Donald Olivieri for a one-timer that screamed past the glove of Hebda as Austin Hoff served a tripping minor.
Adam Knochenmus, who had a goal disallowed Friday by an early whistle, broke out of an eight-game goalless streak with 10:16 left in the second period, fighting a loose puck through traffic and past Hebda to push the Bobcats’ lead to 3-0.
“It was definitely nice to get back on the ol’ horse,” confessed Knochenmus, who showed visible frustration Friday when his would-be score was washed out. “Dan Zawacki and I were working well out there together, even after Frankie had to leave the game, and things were just clicking.”
Moore stretched the lead to 4-0 with a heads-up play, catching Hebda looking for a pass and firing it off the back of the Minot goalie and in for his sixth point of the weekend with 4:06 left in the middle frame.
Hans Drawbert put Minot on the board, ending Tommy Burke’s bid at a shutout 30 seconds after Moore’s tally when a Derek Tylka centering effort found him wide open in front of the net for a wrister that eluded Burke’s glove to cut the Cats’ lead to 4-1.
John Furgele tacked on the Bobcats’ second power play strike of the night, bombing a slap shot past Hebda on a cross-ice feed from Zawacki for the final 5-1 margin with 12:43 to go in the game.
Burke made 23 saves to pick up his 28th win of the year, tying him for the league lead with Janesville’s Tony Kujava.
Focus was important for Burke, who faced a surprisingly heavy workload after going over ten minutes from the opening puck drop before facing his first shot of the game.
“Our offense started so hot and forechecked so well that there wasn’t a lot for me to do early on,” recalled Burke. “Coach and I were talking after Friday’s game and he told me that you need to do whatever you can to stay in a game mentally, even if you’re not seeing many shots.”
Hebda piled up 45 saves but could not avoid his 25th loss of year.
The Bobcats continue their three-game homestand with a Friday contest at the VFW Sports Center against the rival Aberdeen Wings before the second-place Alexandria Blizzard comes calling for a Saturday contest. Both games are scheduled for a 7:15 PM puck drop.
The rivalry contests 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 6:45 PM each night.
Season tickets are still available for the second half of the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email email@example.com for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!