BISMARCK, ND – Former Bismarck High standout Tyler Richter had the Saturday crowd roaring at the VFW Sports Center, posting his first goal for the Bismarck Bobcats in game-winning fashion as the Bobcats swept away the visiting North Iowa Outlaws with a 5-2 win.
With the home side leading 2-1 after two periods, Richter—in his first game as a Bobcat—swung a backhand shot off a North Iowa defender and past Outlaw goalie Paul Moberg to extend the Bismarck lead to 3-1 just 3:17 into the final frame.
“We always work on going to the net during the week,” said Richter, who also scored in the Bobcats’ exhibition game against the Outlaws on Thursday, “so I drove hard and Jason [Fabian] created traffic in front, giving me a nice bounce.”
Just 58 seconds later, North Iowa’s Connor Gaarder notched a power play goal, redirecting a Ben Danford shot through Ryan Faragher’s legs, cutting the lead to 3-2 and setting up Richter to have the game-winner.
Things got dicey for the Bobcats when the referees awarded the Outlaws with a 5-on-3 power play with 9:24 left in the third, but the Bobcats’ penalty kill stiffened, getting a couple big saves from Faragher and some timely shot blocks from Casey Kleisinger and John Avino to negate the extended man advantage and keep the score 3-2.
“North Iowa was doing a good job moving the puck, so I had to stay on my toes,” said Faragher, who picked up his 12th win of the season, “but Casey and Avino and Devin [Schmitt] kept most everything outside and didn’t give them very much to work with.”
A late offensive explosion by the Bobcats sealed the victory, as forwards Sean McKenzie and Tim Serratore picked up even strength tallies in the final 38 seconds of the game for the final margin of 5-2.
After surrendering two first-period goals to the visitors on Friday, it was the Bobcats that got out to a fast start Saturday as Dominic Panetta opened the scoring seven minutes into the first, wiring a wrist shot over Moberg’s glove off a Serratore offensive-zone faceoff win.
“That was actually a set play,” noted Panetta, who also had two assists on the night, “Timmy did a great job to push the puck through and give me the shot.”
The Outlaws tied the game at one with 5:25 remaining in the second when forward Lucas Dillon picked up a rebound in the slot and fired it past a sprawled-out Faragher.
The Bobcats responded, though, with time dwindling in the second as Panetta threaded a transition centering feed to defenseman Sam Rendle, who snuck a low wrist shot inside the far post of Moberg’s net for a 2-1 Bobcat lead with just seven seconds left in the middle frame—setting up Richter’s heroics in the third.
Faragher finished with 27 saves; Moberg stopped 42 Bobcat shots but suffered his 11th loss on the year.
The win extends the Bobcats’ (18-8-6, 42 pts) Central Division lead to nine points over the Owatonna Express (15-11-3, 33 pts), who lost 3-2 in overtime to the Albert Lea Thunder on Saturday.
Additionally, the win secured the ‘Cats the most roster spots for January’s NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich.; the NAHL freezes the standings on Sunday and the first place team in each division sends six players to represent their respective division at the highly scouted weekend event—second place teams only send five players.
Because of the Bobcats’ division-best .656 winning percentage, Bismarck bench boss Byron Pool will be the head coach for the Central and be assisted by Owatonna’s Pat Cullen.
The Bobcats return to action on New Year’s Eve when the red-hot Alexandria Blizzard come to town for a holiday tilt at the VFW Sports Center; the puck drops on Thursday, December 31st at 7:15 PM.
The game will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. The pre-game show starts at 6:45 PM.
You won\’t want to miss any of the games this season, so order your Season Tickets, Family Packs and Group Nights today by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300 or by e-mailing the office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.