Bobcat Rally Snuffed out by Minnesota’s Romanko
BISMARCK, ND — The Bismarck Bobcats twice erased deficits at home against the Minnesota Wilderness, but three unanswered goals by forward Darian Romanko submarined the Cats’ hopes of victory Friday at the VFW Sports Center as Minnesota pulled away to a 6-3 victory.
After back-to-back power play goals by the Wilderness’ Tyler Cline and Janis Jaks put the visitors up 3-2 with 11:17 to go in the second, Alex Strand pulled the Cats even at 3-3 on a low shot in transition that beat Minnesota goalie Ryan Anderson stick side with 7:00 left in the frame.
Romanko, however, scored with 4:02 remaining in the middle stanza, firing a low shot that deflected off the stick of a Bobcat defender and in over Alex Bitsakis’ glove to push the Wilderness back ahead 4-3.
Then, just 36 seconds into the third, Romanko struck again on a low shot on the power play to boost Minnesota’s lead to 5-3.
The Shoreview, Minn., put a dagger in the Cats’ comeback plans at the 13:25 mark, lifting a loose puck past Bitsakis on a net-front scramble it all the way to a 6-3 score.
Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie pulled relief netminder Hunter Shepard with over four minutes left in the game–a move which spurred extended possessions in the Minnesota zone that were rebuked on multiple occasions by Anderson to deliver the Midwest Division leaders the three-goal victory.
Minnesota also scored first Friday as Cline scored in traffic on a centering pass from Aaron Miller 4:32 into the contest.
Matt Perry pulled the Bobcats even at 1-1 on the rush with 8:49 to go in the opening frame, lifting a bad-angle backhander over Anderson’s glove for his second goal in three games.
Rookie blueliner Joe Tyran gave the Cats a brief lead 2:30 into the second, rocketing a slap shot through a cluster of bodies and in on the power play for his first career goal and a 2-1 advantage that would soon be answered by the Wilderness’ Cline and Jaks.
Bitsakis took the loss Friday, making 14 stops; Shepard turned away both shots he faced after replacing the veteran keeper early in the third. Anderson needed just 22 stops to secure his 22nd win of 2014-15.
The two sides will reconvene Saturday for the series finale at the VFW with a 7:15pm start. As they did Friday, the Bobcats will be auctioning off their game-worn black jerseys following Saturday’s tilt.
Tickets are now on sale for Saturday: fans can buy and print online 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com or charge by phone at 222-3300.
Live coverage of Saturday’s rematch will begin at 6:45pm 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.
Though the 2014-15 season is over half way through, there is still time to order season tickets for the year; fans who want to lock in their seats for the remainder of the campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today