Bobcats Hold on, Sweep Bruins
BISMARCK, ND – For the second straight night, the Bismarck Bobcats withstood a furious rally from the Austin Bruins, white-knuckling their way to a 4-3 win Saturday to sweep a two-game weekend at the VFW Sports Center.
Staked to a 4-1 advantage after two periods, the Bobcats once again had their mettle tested by the visiting Bruins as Austin got two goals in a 30-second span on consecutive breakaways by Liam Thrawl and Jan Stefka to shear the lead down to one goal with 11:14 left in regulation.
Following Stefka’s tally, Bobcat goalie Will Ulrich stopped the next 10 shots sent his way while getting key shot blocks from the likes of Nick Alexander and Patrick O’Connor during an Austin power play to help make the one-goal edge stand up for a 4-3 victory.
Familiarity with Austin helped Ulrich excel down the stretch Saturday.
“Playing with the Magicians last year, I saw a lot of the Bruins so I got a chance to study their tendencies,” explained Ulrich, who went 6-0-0 against Austin in 2015-16 with Minnesota. “Having an idea of what they want to do on their scoring chances—especially odd-man rushes—can be a bit of an edge when it comes down to split-second decisions.”
Bobcat co-captain Jared Resseguie got the offense started early for the home side Saturday, collecting a pass in the slot from Cooper Haar and spinning to fire a snap shot that beat Austin netminder Jake Kucharski in traffic to make it 1-0 for the Cats 9:15 into the game.
A penalty shot gave the Bruins a chance to pull even with 5:32 on the clock in the opening frame, but Ulrich flashed the blocker to deny Austin’s Justin Misiak his bid at the equalizer.
Second-year winger Tobias Fladeby kept the momentum going on the power play with 1:54 to go in the first, taking advantage of indecision by Kucharski on a loose puck to zip a bad-angle backhander off the Austin keeper and in to push the score to 2-0 after one in favor of the Cats.
Austin pulled back within one at 2-1 with 4:38 gone in the second when blueliner Dan Petrick capitalized on a defensive zone turnover by the Bobcats, netting his third goal of the year on a snap shot that beat Ulrich stick side.
Resseguie dialed up a response for the Cats with 9:03 left in the middle stanza, finishing off a strong forecheck by Haar over Kucharski’s shoulder to stretch the lead back to two at 3-1.
The Bobcats got the game-deciding goal on another forecheck with 2:46 to go in the second, when Noah Bormann dipped down the left wing wall before firing a cross-ice pass that Fladeby wristed home for a 4-1 cushion—causing Austin head coach Kyle Grabowski to pull Kucharski heading into the third in favor of Robbie Goor.
“We changed up our forecheck for [Saturday], making a small adjustment to try and stay one step ahead,” assessed Fladeby, who finished the weekend with four goals and an assist. “On the goal, Noah made a nice play to keep the possession alive then his pass through the slot was unbelievable.”
Ulrich was credited with 27 saves en route to his second win as Bobcat. Kucharski took the loss on 11 stops; Goor turned away all 11 shots he faced but did not get a chance to factor into the decision.
A six-day layoff now awaits the Bobcats before they make their first regular season trip up Highway 83 to Maysa Arena, where they’ll face the undefeated Minot Minotauros in a 7:35pm Saturday tilt.
Saturday’s archrivalry go-round will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270 AM, and worldwide on HockeyTV.com–the web television partner of the North American Hockey League–with pregame coverage starting at 7:05pm.
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.