Bobcats Withstand Furious Rally to Earn Sweep
MINOT, ND – Posted to a three-goal lead early in the second period, the Bismarck Bobcats held off an all-out comeback attempt by the Minot Minotauros Saturday, pulling away late for a 6-3 victory at Maysa Arena to secure a home-and-home sweep of their arch-rivals.
Already ahead 2-0 after one, Oskars Batna extended the visitors’ advantage to 3-0 on the power play just a minute into the middle stanza, turning through traffic to backhand his own rebound in past Minot goalie Jon Flakne—giving the Latvian center two straight games with a goal and extending his point streak to five contests.
That three-score deficit did not deter the Minotauros, however: Derek Frentz and Troy Degler tallied running goals in a 3:48 span to bring it to a 3-2 game with 9:58 to go in the second.
Despite allowing two goals on three shots mid-way through the frame, Bobcat netminder Hunter Shepard never faltered, turning aside the remaining seven shots he faced in the period to keep his team ahead by one.
Third-year forward Alex Strand restored the Cats to a two-goal edge with 1:05 to go in the wild frame, redirecting a 40-footer from Harrison Aide over Flakne and in for his team-leading 11th marker.
Far from out of the game, Minot got back within one with 10:00 to go in the third off a faceoff when Johnny Walker caught Shepard leaning left and poked it inside the right post to bring it back within one at 4-3.
When the Minotauros were assessed a bench minor in the back half of the third, the Bobcats got a back-breaker on the ensuing power play from defenseman Patrik Demel, who kicked a back-door pass from Travis Wood into the air then batted the floating puck in to make it 5-3 with 7:08 remaining.
Desperate to battle back, Minot pulled Flakne for an extra attacker with more than two minutes to go but Aide stole the puck in the Bobcat end, rushed to the red line and deposited a 100-footer with 1:42 showing on the clock for the contest’s final 6-3 margin.
Veteran winger Jared Pike got the Bobcats going with 13:57 left in the first, netting a fluky goal on the power play when a dump-in off the glass took a left turn straight into the net as Flakne headed to the back wall to play the wrap-around—almost a carbon-copy of his goal from his playoff debut at the Maysa last May.
Aaron Herdt extended the lead to 2-0 with 18 seconds left in the opening 20 minutes, driving a one-timer from Wood through traffic and in on a 5-on-3 power play.
On the night, the Bobcat power play posted an eye-popping 4-for-6 conversion rate.
Shepard did the heavy lifting in net, making 38 saves on 41 shots—including going 12 for 13 against Walker alone—to secure his fourth straight win. Flakne managed 16 stops in his first start against the Cats.
The Bobcats will stay out on the road next weekend when they travel to both Aberdeen and Brookings, starting with a 7:15pm Friday duel with the Aberdeen Wings at the Odde Ice Center.
Friday’s installment of the Titan Machinery Dakota Cup will be broadcast live locally on SuperTalk 1270, KLXX-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 6:45pm.
Season tickets are still on sale for the 2015-16 season at a pro-rated price; if you want to beat the rush of over 40,000 fans for this year, now is the time! Call 222-3300 to reserve your seats today.
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