BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats overcame numerous defensive miscues to force overtime but could not overcome the offense of Cory Ward as the Cats fell 5-4 in overtime to the Aberdeen Wings at the VFW Sports Center Friday night.
“I don’t think we played more than about four minutes of good hockey all night, but somehow managed to get it to OT,” admitted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose team has dropped their last two games to the Wings after taking the first eight meetings of the Titan Machinery Dakota Cup. “There are a lot of lessons to be learned about defense and effort tonight and we have about 21 hours to make sure they stick [before Saturday’s game against Alexandria].”
Aberdeen got on the board 8:05 into the game as a puck deflected away from Kevin Becker to a wide open Paul Prescott, who slammed the puck into a mostly open net to post the Wings to a 1-0 lead.
Donald Olivieri answered for the Bobcats to level the game at 1-1, threading a power play wrist shot through traffic and past Wings netminder Marcus Zelzer 2:52 after Prescott’s opening tally.
The Wings, however, responded 131 seconds later as Joe Mottiqua found Trevor Husch wide open for a one-timer that beat Tommy Burke under the cross-bar to boost the visitors to a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
A second period burst by the Bobcats would guide them to the lead, as back-to-back goals from Mike Dockry and Tyler Richter pushed the division-leading Cats to a 3-2 advantage 10:13 into the middle frame.
Aberdeen answered that rally with a two-goal volley of their own as Ward and CJ Reuschlein tallied scores in the final eight minutes of the second to reclaim the lead at 4-3 after 40 minutes.
Adam Knochenmus tied the game 4-4 5:28 into the third, grabbing an entry from Bryce Anderson and faking a pass on a 3-on-1 rush before burning a shot past Zelzer.
The Bobcats dominated the remainder of regulation as Zelzer was forced to come up with 15 third-period stops—including two point-blank chances by Dockry and Buster Hebda in the final minute of regulation—to force the game into overtime.
In the extra frame the two teams stalemated in neutral zone-heavy play, but Ward delivered the game winner just 49 seconds shy of a shootout to deal the Bobcats just their second loss after regulation of the season.
Ward has both game-winning goals for the Wings against the Bobcats on the year.
Burke made 30 saves but could not avoid his first overtime loss of the season.
“You’ve got to feel for Tommy on a night like this,” noted Sedevie, “played a great game, made some huge saves but he couldn’t get enough help to get a win he really deserved.”
Zelzer improved to 2-1-0 against the Bobcats behind 26 saves.
The Bobcats have no time to fret over a loss to their Dakota Cup rivals, though, as the second-place Alexandria Blizzard come calling for a 7:15 PM Saturday showdown at the VFW Sports Center.
Saturday’s weekend finale 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.
Season tickets are still available for the second half of the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!