Special Teams Key Bobcats’ Shutout of Magicians
BISMARCK, ND – After nearly a month on the downturn, the Bismarck Bobcats’ power play and penalty kill broke out while Hunter Shepard compiled 24 saves in the Cats’ 3-0 blanking of the Minnesota Magicians Saturday at the VFW Sports Center.
Coming off a frustrating 5-2 defeat Friday, the Bobcat offense got the crowd of 1,149 whipped up 7:30 into the game as veteran winger Harrison Aide took an entry pass from linemate Alex Strand and slung a low wrister that deflected in off Minnesota goalie Drew Hotte to post the Cats to a 1-0 lead.
The goal gave Aide, the 2014 Outstanding Senior Athlete award winner for hockey in North Dakota, points in five straight games.
Aide would then help break the Bobcat power play out of an 0-for-18 nosedive, intercepting a long clearout by Magicians blueliner Travis Brown to trigger a 3-on-2 rush into the offensive zone. Aide worked a drop pass off to Strand inside the blue line and Strand picked up his second helper of the night, feeding a wide-open Aaron Herdt for a one-time blast past Hotte to make it 2-0 Bobcats with 7:20 remaining in the first.
Neither team was able to break through in a penalty-riddled second period that saw the two sides combine for 13 minutes of power play time, including a five-minute slashing major assessed to Magicians defenseman Kyle McKenzie.
It was a Minnesota power play that helped the Cats put the game on ice with 7:39 left in the third: as Solag Bakich sat for checking from behind, Strand threaded a home run pass to Herdt behind the Magician defense, springing the former Moorhead Spud for a shorthanded breakaway, which he cashed in with a wrist shot over Hotte’s glove for a 3-0 score.
Strand finished the night with a game-high three points—all assists—but his most important contributions may have come on the defensive end.
“If I said that Alex blocked 10 shots [Saturday], I don’t think it would be an exaggeration,” illustrated Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “There was one sequence on the ‘PK’ in the second period alone where he got in front of about five shots. When you have guys selling out on defense like that, it becomes infectious.”
Shepard mopped up the rest of the game for the Cats after Herdt’s insurance marker, needing to turn away just two shots down the stretch to nail down his second shutout of 2015-16.
Despite the loss, Hotte shined in net for the Magicians, turning in 33 stops in his second career NAHL start.
The Bobcats now head out for two weeks of games away from the friendly confines of the VFW Sports Center, starting with their only visit of the season to Northwoods Credit Union Arena to open up a two game set against the defending Robertson Cup champion Minnesota Wilderness Friday at 7:30pm.
Friday’s non-division tilt will be broadcast live on locally SuperTalk 1270 AM, the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, and worldwide online at NAHL.FASTHockey.com—the official web television partner of the North American Hockey League—with pregame coverage starting at 7:00pm.
Season tickets are now on sale for the 2015-16 campaign; if you want to beat the rush of 40,000 fans for this season, now is the time! Call 222-3300 today to reserve your seats.
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