Early Blitz Spells Doom for Bobcats
AUSTIN, MN – The Bismarck Bobcats surrendered three goals in the first 6:30 of hockey and could not recover, falling 5-2 Saturday to the Austin Bruins at Riverside Arena.
Before many fans had even taken their seats, Bruin defenseman Ian Scheid posted the home side to a 1-0, blazing a low shot through traffic that beat Bobcat goalie Hunter Shepard just 3:31 into the game.
On the following faceoff, the Bobcats got caught deep trying to respond, leading to a 2-on-1 that Trevor Boyd fed to a wide-open Liam Feeney, who buried a point-blank one-timer just 39 seconds after Scheid’s tally to push the lead to 2-0.
With 13:30 remaining in the first, Nico Sturm compounded the Bobcats’ problems, slamming in a feed from Alex Pettersson that made it 3-0.
Rookie Keaton Leininger gave the Bobcats life at 3-1 with 4:26 to go in the opening frame, powering to the front of the Austin net after an Anthony Song faceoff win and muscling a loose puck through Bruin netminder Jake Kielly.
Any momentum the visitors gained from Leininger’s first career goal was quickly extinguished after the first overtime: Luke Dietsch made it a three-goal game a mere 29 seconds into the second.
Jacob Kullberg, who scored twice Friday, continued the Cats’ misery 121 seconds later, making it 5-1 on a one-timer for his third goal of the weekend.
Following Kullberg’s marker, Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie pulled Shepard, who managed just seven saves in his first start since October 11, and replaced him with Alex Bitsakis.
Third-year winger Evan Giesler drew the Bobcats within striking distance at 5-2 with 12:03 showing on the second period timer, collecting a long rebound after Jared Spooner rang the post in transition and firing it into an open net before Kielly could recover to his left.
Following the goal, the Bobcats took three straight penalties that culminated in a five-minute major and ejection on Oskars Batna, stalling their comeback hopes.
In the third, the Bobcats threw the kitchen sink at Kielly, but the Bruins rookie held firm, making his best saves of the night with 10:38 left, denying Giesler twice on a point-blank power play scoring attempt.
Bitsakis held the Bobcats close, making seven saves in the third—including a glove denial of Josh Wilkins on a short breakaway—but the offense could not solve Kielly and the Cats fell 5-2. The Montreal, Quebec, native did not factor in the decision but stopped all 15 shots he saw for a total of 60 saves on the weekend; Shepard took the loss.
Kielly needed just 16 saves to secure his fourth win.
The loss marked the first time in franchise history the Bobcats have lost the season series to the Bruins.
After playing 12 of their first 14 games away from home, the Bobcats will return to the VFW Sports Center for a 7:15pm matchup with the surging Minot Minotauros on Thursday that will start a run of nine out of 13 games at home for the Cats.
Tickets for Bobcats-Minotauros are now available for online purchase at BismarckBobcats.com or charge-by-phone at 222-3300.
Live coverage of Thursday’s intrastate dustup will begin at 6:35pm 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 now under way, there is still time to order season tickets for the year; fans who want to lock in their seats for the entire campaign should call the Bobcat office at 222-3300 today!
Early Blitz Spells Doom for Bobcats