Bobcats Come up Short in Defensive Struggle

BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats could not cash in 65 minutes of scoreless hockey by goalie Aaron Nelson and instead wound up on the wrong end of a shutout, falling 1-0 in a shootout to the third-place Brookings Blizzard Friday at the VFW Sports Center.

With the extra-time defeat, the Bobcats (29-16-7, 65 pts) saw their lead for second place over Brookings (28-20-5, 61 pts) shrink to four points; the loss also eliminated the black and gold from contention for their fourth regular-season Central Division title in five years as Austin (38-9-6, 82 pts) picked up a win and closed out their first-ever regular season crown.

Despite dominating the first 30 minutes of hockey—which saw the Cats outshoot Brookings 27-14—the home side could not solve Blizzard netminder Drew Weigman. At one point in the game the Bobcats held the puck inside the Brookings zone for nearly four uninterrupted minutes mid-way through the second period yet could not find a go-ahead strike.

“[Friday] was all about missed opportunities for us,” lamented Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose team has now suffered three different 1-0 losses this season—two to Weigman and the Blizzard. “The box score says we took 45 shots but at the same time we probably passed up 45 scoring chances trying to make the cute play.”

In the third, the Cats’ missed chances came to a head when forward Matt Pohlkamp got a breakaway in on Weigman when his defender Derek Sand fell down but could not register a shot on net.

When the third period game timer showed 0:00, neither Nelson nor Weigman had given an inch and the game went to overtime, still scoreless.

On a Brookings power play granted halfway through overtime, the Bobcats had back-to-back shorthanded 2-on-1 rushes with Evan Giesler and Nate Repensky and then Dan Kovar and Filip Starzynski but only managed one shot between the two transition opportunities.

Nelson mustered six saves in the bonus frame, helping to send the game to a decisive shootout.

Neither team was able to break through in the first three rounds, as Nelson and Weigman continued their wizardry over opposing shooters.

Blizzard captain Thomas Williams was able to push Brookings ahead in the fourth round, firing a five-hole strike past Nelson. Bobcat shooters Giesler and Joe Giordano came up short, dealing the Cats their second shutout defeat in the past three games.

All told, Nelson piled up 32 saves but wound up on the short end of a 1-0 shutout for the third time this season to fall to 20-7-5 in 2012-13. Weigman bounced back from his first loss all season to the Bobcats to secure his 19th win and fourth shutout of the year.

With the extra point earned by reaching overtime, the Cats dropped their magic number for home ice advantage—points gained in the standings plus points lost by Brookings—to 11. Despite the shootout setback, the Bobcats also claimed the season series from the Blizzard with a final mark of 5-3-2 (all 5 Brookings losses were in regulation).

The Bobcats will now look for a weekend split when the in-state rival Minot Minotauros pay a visit to the VFW Sports Center Saturday for a 7:15 PM showdown. Saturday’s Battle of US-83, one of four remaining between the NAHL’s two North Dakota-based franchises, will be Big Brothers Big Sisters night, with $1.00 from each ticket sold going to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, courtesy of Farmers Union Insurance.

Tickets for the game are on sale right now by calling the box office at 222-3300 or buying and printing tickets online at www.BismarckBobcats.com.

Saturday’s intrastate grudge match 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.

Bobcat fans can get 2013 Playoff Priority if they reserve 2013-14 season tickets today! Call the Bobcat Hockey office today at (701) 222-3300 to reserve your seats for another year Championship Entertainment and get first crack at seats in the 2013 Robertson Cup Playoffs.