Square One

Apr 20, 2012

BISMARCK, ND – Despite not trailing once during regulation, the Bismarck Bobcats dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Austin Bruins in Game Two of the Central Division Finals Saturday at the VFW Sports Center.

Buster Hebda tallied his first career playoff goal 4:41 into the game, bombing a shot through traffic that beat Austin goalie Tyler Bruggeman over the blocker to push the Bobcats ahead 1-0.

Austin answered 4:04 later as Brandon Wahlin cashed in a 2-on-1 with Matt Hansen, one-timing Hansen’s centering feed through the legs of Bobcat netminder Aaron Nelson to level the score at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.

Shane Omdahl capitalized on a net-front turnover early in the second as the Austin defense could not control a long power-play clear-in, giving Omdahl a point-blank tap-in past Bruggeman to boost the Cats to a 2-1 lead.

Wahlin had the answer again for the Bruins, however, once again converting a 2-on-1—this time from Jeremy Finger—for the second tie of the game at 2-2 with 14:24 left in the second.

Omdahl pushed back for the Bobcats 56 seconds later, taking a cross-ice pass on the rush from Adam Knochenmus and beating Bruggeman to the post with a short one-timer for a 3-2 lead for the home side.

The Bobcats, though, could not keep Wahlin from the hat trick, as Austin’s rookie sensation turned a pass off the wall through the crease and in past Nelson with 2:21 to go in the middle frame to tie the score once more at 3-3 after two.

Neither team was able to break through in a third period dominated by neutral zone play that featured just 16 combined shots.

Bruggeman came up huge in the extra frame, turning aside numerous point-blank opportunities from the Bobcats to extend the game for Joe Siers to find a soft spot in the Bobcat defense on an up ice rush and launch a rising shot over Nelson’s glove to deliver the Bruins a 4-3 win and even the series heading back to Austin.

Nelson made 27 saves but suffered his first playoff loss; Bruggeman improved to 4-2 in the 2012 playoffs behind 24 stops.

The now scene shifts to southern Minnesota as the teams reconvene for Game Three of the Central Finals at Riverside Arena with a scheduled puck drop of 7:05 PM. Game Four will follow on Saturday at the same time; should the teams need a fifth game, the series will return to the VFW Sports Center on Monday, April 30, for Game Five at 7:15 PM.

Friday’s pivotal third game 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. Fans can watch Friday’s game—and all away contests—live at Reza’s Pitch at Third and Front in Bismarck, the official away game home of Bobcat Hockey.