BISMARCK, N.D.–Calvin Hanson’s first career hat trick fueled the Bismarck Bobcats to a 6-2 victory over the Minot Minotauros at the VFW Sports Center on Friday.
Nico Chmelevski, Adam Pietila, and Michael Neumeier had one goal each to go along with Hanson’s three. The Bobcats scored twice in each period and never trailed in the contest. Importantly, each time Minot scored, Bismarck responded almost immediately: two-and-a-half minutes after the Tauros’ first goal, and just 26 seconds after their second.
“We had an answer,” head coach Layne Sedevie said. “You are going to give up goals and chances, but when you can answer them that quick, it really deflates them … Especially tonight, being at home and having the fans behind us, it was extremely important to not let them get that next one.”
The Bobcats controlled the puck possession and shots on goal throughout the night, which had a run-and-gun feel to it with neither team’s 5-on-5 structure getting into much of a rhythm. In a game of transition, Bismarck scored multiple times on the rush and stifled Minot’s odd-man opportunities, thanks in large part to Hunter Garvey’s 22 saves.
“In the second period, Garvey was fantastic,” Sedevie said. “I know he wants the second goal back, but he played a great game. He is the reason why it was not closer going into the third.”
After a recent stretch of 0-for-16 on power play opportunities–with two shorthanded goals allowed during that time–the ‘Cats power play cashed in their best performance all season with a 3-for-4 night. That success combined with a perfect penalty kill led to a banner night for Bismarck’s special teams.
“That is an extreme positive after the last two weeks,” Sedevie said. “I thought our power play stayed in structure, and we scored three goals off of it. Both units scored and our penalty kill was solid … I do not think either team is happy with the 5-on-5, but special teams were definitely a big difference maker tonight.”
Hanson scored one of the three power play goals. The 20-year-old from Hallock, Minn. has scored 17 goals in his last 22 games, making him one of the hottest goal scorers in the North American Hockey League. Aside from team success, Hanson’s college hockey destination remains in the balance, and a hat trick is a step in the right direction.
“He is playing for his future,” Sedevie said. “I think he worried about it so much earlier on. He did not have a goal until game 20, and now he has 17. He can shoot it and he has speed. He is extremely effective.”
With 20 wins in their back pocket, the Bobcats now face the difficult task in the weekend series: traveling to Minot. The Tauros have won four straight at the Maysa Arena against Bismarck, all of them close contests. The winner of Saturday’s game will take fourth place in the central division. It is the last regular-season meeting of the NAHL’s best rivalry.
“If we work hard and play within our systems, you create your own puck luck,” Sedevie said. “I told the guys in the room that tonight is great, but now, we have 15 games (remaining) and it is really in our own hands.”