ALEXANDRIA, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats could not overcome a five-goal surge by the Alexandria Blizzard as the second-place Blizzard pulled away late for a 5-1 win Friday night at the Runestone Center.
Ryan Callahan got the Bobcats on the board early in the game as Jeremy O’Keefe created a turnover at the Blizzard blueline and sent the puck to the front of the net for Callahan to bang home for his second goal in four games to push the visitors ahead 1-0 just 2:06 into the game.
Alexandria, however, seized the momentum after Callahan’s goal, outshooting the Bobcats 10-1 in the final 10 minutes of the first period—culminating in an equalizer on the rush by Dylan Zink, who ripped a shot over the blocker of Bobcat goalie Tommy Burke to tie the game at one with 4:56 to go in the first.
The Blizzard pulled ahead with 2:56 left in the second as Craig Lindegard knocked down his defender on a short rush and fed the puck to a wide-open Gage Torrel who snapped in a quick one-timer, making it 2-1 in favor of Alexandria.
While the Bobcats attempted to find an equalizer in the third period, Blizzard goalie Jacob Meyers came up with 11 saves to turn back an early surge by the Cats in the first half of the third period before a late offensive explosion by the home side sealed the game.
Reid Sturos, who has victimized the Bobcats during 2012, scored his fifth goal against the Cats on the season with a power play strike at the 7:53 mark of the third, grabbing a Charlie Aus rebound off the back wall and jamming it past Burke to extend the lead to 3-1 Alexandria.
The Bobcats appeared to draw back to within one with the net empty when Danny Ray created a turnover at the Blizzard blue line and fired a puck off the shoulder of Meyers that caused the goal judge’s red light to flash on for a second, but the referees ruled the puck did not go in.
Seconds later, Donald Olivieri was whistled for a head contact penalty and on the ensuing power play the Blizzard got some serious insurance when a puck at the front of the Bobcat net went in off the skate of Tucker Coborn for a 4-1 Blizzard edge with 1:36 to go in the game.
Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie did not call off the dogs, though, as he pulled Burke a second time for an extra attacker quickly after Coborn’s goal. The Cats could not solve Meyers, however, and a long clear by the Blizzard defense turned into an empty net goal for Grant Eichstadt with 52 seconds left for the final 5-1 margin.
It is the biggest loss the Cats have suffered since falling by an identical score to Amarillo on September 16 at the NAHL Showcase.
The Bobcats return home for their final game before next week’s All-Star break Saturday as the Blizzard come to town for the back end of the two teams’ home and home series: a 7:15 PM showdown at the VFW Sports Center.
Saturday’s rematch 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 6:45. 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 email@example.com for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!