BISMARCK, ND–Flirting with the end of a losing streak hurts when it dumps you at the end of the night.
Aberdeen got third-period goals from Jordan Heller and Zach Doerring, each in the last six minutes, to take the final game of the season series with the Bobcats 5-4 Wednesday night in Bismarck.
Stanislav Dzakhov (Moscow, Russia) sailed in his 25th goal of the season at 11:14 of the third period, giving the Bobcats a 4-3 lead and a path to break a six-game skid. Aberdeen’s late scoring extended that skid to seven.
“You could just feel it coming on the bench,” said Bobcat head coach Layne Sedevie. “We just can’t get any luck right now. It’s tough on these guys to come this close and still come up short.
The Bobcats (28-20-4) fell four points behind the Wings (30-18-4) for second place in the NAHL standings after dropping their sixth straight to Aberdeen, a streak that began on December 21st. Five of those losses came in Bismarck.
Dzakhov scored twice on the night, and added two assists, moving to 10th in the NAHL in scoring with 46 points. His goal at 14:11 of the first tied the game at 1-1, and his wrister from the top of the left circle just seconds after a draw at 11:14 of the third gave Bismarck their first third-period lead in nearly a month at 4-3.
Cullen Willox (Eagan, MN), playing on a line with Dzakhov and Filip Starzynski (Warsaw, Poland) got back into the scoring act with the game-tying goal at 7:51 of the third. The line produced seven points, with Starzynski adding assist on both of Dzakhov’s markers.
Evan Giesler (Naperville, IL) provided the Bobcats a lift with a power play goal at 13:28 of the second, cutting a then two-goal Wings’ lead to 3-2.
But power play success was in the corner of Aberdeen again Wednesday, a team sporting the second best power play conversion (21.65%) in the NAHL. Johnathan Grebosky and Tanner Okeson scored on the man-advantage at 18:44 of the first and just 18 seconds into the second, respectively, to dig a hole the Bobcats would furiously dig out of nearly the rest of the night.
An eye-opening moment came after Grebosky’s goal, when Bobcat goalie Aaron Nelson (Bismarck, ND) was lifted when he took a tripping penalty, pushing reliever Scott Albertoni (Arvada, CO) into action.
“We stressed their power play, how good it was, and how we can’t take stupid penalties against this team. Nelson took that penalty, and we took him out,” explained Sedevie.
Albertoni fared well till the final minutes, but began to be undone when Heller scored his second unassisted goal of the night, a flurry in front of the net that Abertoni could not track down. Doerring then squeezed the winner just between Albertoni’s left skate and the pipe with just 1:26 left, closing the Wings’ victory.
The Bobcats are back on the ice Friday at home, hosting the Minnesota Wilderness. Tickets are available at 222-3300 or online at www.bismarckbobcats.com.