Feb 3, 2012

ABERDEEN, SD – For the first time in 2011-12, the Bismarck Bobcats dropped a contest to the rival Aberdeen Wings as Cory Ward tripped up the first-place Bobcats with a last-minute power play goal for a 3-2 final at Odde Ice Center on Saturday.

With the game knotted 2-2, Aberdeen was awarded a power play with 1:40 to go that Ward—the top scorer in the Central Division with 48 points—cashed in off of a Wings timeout with a rising wrister that beat Bobcat goalie Aaron Nelson under the crossbar to push the Wings ahead 3-2 with 21 seconds left in regulation.

The Bobcats attempted to rally in the closing seconds but the Wings’ defense kept the puck pinned along the wall as the final ticks spilled off the clock to end the Bobcats’ four-game win streak and give the Wings their first victory in nine tries in the Titan Machinery Dakota Cup.

After the game, the Bobcats refused to use the late penalty kill setback as an excuse.

“I can’t say agreed with some of the calls the refs made, but the game should’ve never come down to [the penalty kill],” assessed Bobcats head coach and general manager, whose side still leads the Dakota Cup standings 16-4. “If we’d come out with a better work ethic tonight, it would’ve been a much different score and we have to hope we learned a valuable lesson against a playoff-bound team here [Saturday].”

Donald Olivieri got the Bobcats out to a fast start, striking 1:58 into the game as a Bryce Schmitt rebound rolled across the goal line behind Wings goaltender Marcus Zelzer and straight to Olivieri, who smacked it home for a fast 1-0 lead.

Aberdeen tied it up at one with 2:56 to go in the first on the power play when blueliner Shayne McLaughlin fired a point shot that pinballed through traffic and past a screened-out Nelson.

Nelson and Zelzer took center stage in the second, combining for 25 saves as each side battled for momentum but couldn’t break through.

Paul Prescott pushed the Wings to a 2-1 lead 3:45 into the third, converting a 2-on-1 with Kevin Becker moments after a Bobcat power play came to a close.

It was the first time all year the Wings had held a lead in the third period against the Bobcats.

Bobcats leading scorer looked set to send the game to overtime with 5:54 left in regulation, using a Bryce Schmitt screen on the power play to rocket a rising shot past Zelzer and tie the game 2-2, setting the stage for Ward’s last-second heartbreaker.

Nelson made 26 saves but could not avoid his first regulation loss since September 17 against Kalamazoo.

“Nelly was the only guy out there who showed up for 60 minutes and you hate to see him get punished with a loss at the end of the day,” noted Sedevie. “He made some big stops, especially in the second period to keep us in it when it looked like Aberdeen was going to take over.”

Zelzer picked up his 11th win of the season and his first in three starts against the Bobcats behind 27 stops.

Despite the loss, the Bobcats’ (35-7-1, 71 pts) did not lose any ground to either Alexandria (27-12-3, 57 pts) for first place in the Central or Amarillo (34-4-7, 75 pts) for the best record in the NAHL as both the Blizzard and Bulls suffered regulation losses Saturday.

The Bobcats get a short respite before they head west for game number six in their grinding eight-games-in-15-nights slate that comprises late January and early February when they take on Alexandria Wednesday night at the Runestone Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM.

Wednesday’s matchup of the Central’s top two sides 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 6:30 PM. Fans can watch the game—and all away contests—live at Reza’s Pitch at Third and Front in Bismarck, the official away game home of Bobcat Hockey.

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 gobobcathockey@aol.com for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!