BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats are once again Central Division regular season champions after Aaron Quick lifted the ‘Cats to a 3-2 win Friday over the Alexandria Blizzard, scoring with nine seconds left in overtime to send the VFW Sports Center’s sell-out crowd home happy.
The win, combined with Owatonna’s 4-3 home loss to Kenai River, gives the Bobcats (33-10-8, 74 pts) home-ice advantage through the first two rounds of April’s Robertson Cup Playoffs for the second straight season.
“Home-ice advantage is always huge, especially in a division that usually requires a lot of travel like the Central,” said Bobcats assistant captain Jason Fabian, who finished the night with an assist against the Blizzard. “It’s a nice goal to reach and it feels good to be rewarded for our hard work all season… but it’s not our ultimate goal.”
Quick’s goal came on a last-ditch up-ice rush in the waning seconds of the extra period when the Air Force recruit took an entry pass from defenseman Dan Weissenhofer and rifled a low slap shot under the glove of Alexandria netminder Chris Kamal, triggering a full-team pile-on in the Blizzard zone.
Despite missing on a number of earlier scoring chances, Quick said that he stayed confident through to the end.
“I was ‘feeling it’ as early as warm-ups tonight, so I had a feeling I’d get something,” said Quick, who now has seven points in 11 games with the Bobcats. “After I didn’t get those chances, I could’ve gotten nervous but I knew I had to bear down.
“I saw a lane from the second I jumped on the ice [on a line change] and started calling for the puck from center. [Nick] Jensen passed it back to Weissenhofer and Dan hit me in stride coming into the zone and I just let it rip.”
Following a scoreless first period, Sam Rendle opened the scoring for the Bobcats 96 seconds into the second, weaving a long power play slap shot from the point through traffic and past Kamal for the 1-0 edge.
The Blizzard tied the score with 12:20 left in the middle frame as Alex Altenbernd popped home a 2-on-1 chance off a Steve Zierke feed moments after a Bobcat power play expired.
Five minutes later, Sean McKenzie broke the tie for the Bobcats, rolling a snap shot off Kamal’s blocker and in, giving the ‘Cats a 2-1 lead with 7:27 remaining in the second.
Alexandria forced another tie 50 seconds into the third when Blizzard defender Chris Franks blistered a transition slap shot over the glove of Bobcat goalie Jake Williams.
The two teams battled to a stalemate over the final 19 minutes, forcing overtime and setting the stage for Quick’s late winner.
Williams bounced back from his first loss as a Bobcat last Friday, making 21 saves to improve to 9-5-0 on the year and 7-1-0 in black and gold.
Kamal stymied 35 Bobcat shots but fell to 17-11-3 for the season.
The Bobcats and Blizzard will wrap up their regular season series with a 7:15 PM contest at the VFW Sports Center on Saturday. The Bobcats are 11-1-0 against the Blizzard so far in 2009-10.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. The pre-game show starts at 6:45 PM.
You won\’t want to miss any of the games this season, so order your pro-rated Season Tickets, Family Packs and Group Nights today by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300 or by e-mailing the office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.