Power Play Drives Bobcats past Wilderness 4-2
BISMARCK, ND – Aaron Herdt scored twice and the Bismarck Bobcat power play converted its last three opportunities as the Cats claimed a heavyweight bout 4-2 over the Minnesota Wilderness Friday at the VFW Sports Center.
“[Friday] was probably the most exciting game we’ve been a part of this year,” gushed Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “The Wilderness are a very good team, and we didn’t have a great start but when our guys stepped up, they went toe-to-toe with one of the league’s best [teams].”
That slow start culminated in a 1-0 lead for the Wilderness after the first as defenseman Tristan Rostagno capitalized on a Bobcat turnover and ripped a low shot that beat goalie Hunter Shepard in traffic with 10:17 to go in the opening frame.
Herdt got the home side back on track 5:54 into the second: teeing up a one-time snap shot from Willie Brown just eight seconds into the Cats’ second power play of the night and beating Minnesota netminder Luke Kania inside the right post to tie the game at one.
Another power play goal delivered the Bobcats their first lead of the night at 2-1 with 2:53 left in the middle stanza as Alex Strand held his ground in a net-front battle and punched in a Tobias Fladeby rebound for his team-leading 18th goal of the year.
Before the second could end, however, the Wilderness nearly drew even on the power play, but were denied on consecutive attempts as Shepard, scrambling from being out of position, dove to his left to deny a point shot from Tyler Vold, followed by Joe Tyran blocking Kyle Patava—who had a wide-open net to shoot at—on the ensuing rebound to maintain the one-goal cushion after two.
Undeterred, Minnesota didn’t waste any time in equalizing in the third on Tyler Bloom’s tenth score of the year as the first-year center swung home an Isak Berglund rebound just 1:53 into the frame.
It took Herdt just 71 seconds to respond, taking a turnover created by Solag Bakich, turning into the high slot and ripping a wrister off the right post and in past Kania’s glove to put the Cats right back in front at 3-2.
Shepard bounced back well from Bloom’s tally, stopping the next 14 shots he saw to maintain the one-goal edge.
Though Minnesota was called for a late hooking penalty on Rostagno, the Wilderness still pulled Kania for the extra attacker but could not penetrate the Cats’ shot-blocking defense. The final block came courtesy of Brown, who carried the puck back out to neutral ice and sent a low liner into the empty cage with 18 seconds left for the Bobcats’ third power play goal of the night and the 4-2 final.
In all, Shepard piled up 34 saves to nail down his 24th win of the year. Kania turned away 17 of 20 Bobcat offerings but could not avoid his first loss since December 30.
Both sides will reconvene for another go-round Saturday, with a puck-drop scheduled for 7:15pm at the VFW Sports Center.
Tickets for Saturday—the Bobcats’ final out-of-division game of 2015-16—are now on sale: fans can buy and print tickets 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com, by clicking “Shop Now” on the team Facebook page or charge-by-phone at 222-3300.
Saturday’s rematch 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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