ALBERT LEA, MN – Bismarck Bobcats goaltender Ryan Massa picked up his first shutout of 2009-10 and the Bobcats’ special teams unit continued its stellar play as the ‘Cats blanked the Albert Lea Thunder 4-0 Sunday at the Albert Lea Arena.
The win gave the Bobcats (9-7-5, 23 pts) a share of first place in the Central Division for the first time all year with the Owatonna Express (11-5-1, 23 pts).
Following a scoreless first period, the Bobcats power play unit came out firing in the second. The special teams assault began with 10:25 left in the middle frame when Dominic Panetta scorched a one-time shot over Albert Lea netminder Ben Waalkens for a 1-0 Bismarck advantage.
Sam Rendle continued the Bobcats’ strong extra-man play five minutes later, weaving a wrist shot through traffic and past Waalkens on the power play for a 2-0 Bobcat lead with 5:33 remaining in the second.
Bobcat forward Casey Kleisinger capped the power play rally at the 2:15 mark of the second, sending a transition snap shot over Waalkens’ glove for a 3-0 lead heading into the second intermission.
The Bismarck power play finished the night 3-for-7 while the Bobcats’ league-best penalty killing unit negated all five power plays the Thunder enjoyed.
Defenseman John Avino gave the ‘Cats the final margin 6:18 into the third with his third goal of the year, batting home a Sam Dougherty rebound to make it 4-0.
Massa finished the night with 33 saves, none bigger than the four he made in the game’s last minute, including a diving stick save on the Thunder’s Zach Lewis to preserve the shutout. The Littleton, Colo., native is now 4-4-1 on the year, having won three straight starts in net.
For the Thunder, Waalkens stopped 27 Bobcat shots but saw his record drop to 1-7-0 on the 2009-10 campaign.
The Bobcats finished their three-games-in-three-nights road trip with a 2-0-1 record and are now 9-2-3 in their last 14 games.
The ‘Cats hit the road again next Friday for another three-in-three trip starting with a 7:00 PM tilt at the Runestone Center against the fourth-place Alexandria Blizzard.
The 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 6:30 PM.
You won\’t want to miss any of the games this season, so order your 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.