Bobcats Survive Wings 3-2 in OT
BISMARCK, ND – For the second straight game, the Bismarck Bobcats went to overtime with the Aberdeen Wings when a third-period lead evaporated and—just as they did seven days prior—the Cats emerged victorious, this time on a goal from Oskars Batna, to edge the Wings 3-2 Saturday at the VFW Sports Center.
Unlike last weekend, it was the Bobcats staked to a 2-1 advantage after two, but Aberdeen was able to equalize at two with 9:03 left in regulation on the power play when the Bobcat defense blocked two shots down the middle before Kevin Fitzgerald was able to angle in the loose puck before Bobcat goalie Hunter Shepard could recover to his left.
Despite 12 third-period shots and two late power plays, the Cats could not break the deadlock, thanks in large part to a post-to-post denial by Wings netminder Peter Thome on a Harrison Aide one-timer with 6:48 to go in the frame—ultimately sending the game to extra time.
In the first minute and a half of the bonus stanza, the Wings hemmed the Bobcats in their own end—outshooting the home side 3-0—but could not solve Shepard’s blocker.
Following a whistle and a line change, the combination of Batna, Jared Pike and Nick Wallace turned the tables on Aberdeen: creating an extended forecheck that culminated in the Latvian cente circling past all three Wings on the ice and zipping a low backhander through Thome’s legs and in to lift the Cats to the 3-2 win.
The Bobcats’ power play drew first blood Saturday with 9:14 on the clock in the first when Aaron Herdt picked up his team-leading 32nd point of the season when his one-time slap shot deflected off a defender and inside the right post for a 1-0 edge.
Aberdeen knotted the game at one 8:48 into the second as Austin Heakins tallied his second goal in as many games against the Bobcats, swatting a Kieran Durgan rebound out of mid-air and in past a sprawling Shepard.
Aide managed to push the Cats back ahead at 2-1, taking a left-wing entry from Tobias Fladeby, surging through two defenders, outmaneuvering Thome into the low slot and tucking a backhander into a wide-open net with 5:36 remaining in the second to set the stage for the game’s dramatic finish.
Shepard turned aside 24 shots to claim his 20th win of the year; Thome dazzled with 39 stops but slipped to 9-11-6 in his first NAHL campaign.
With the win, the Bobcats (21-13-1, 43 pts) pull into a first-place tie with Austin (21-16-1, 43 pts) and Minot (20-16-3, 43 points) atop the Central Division standings.
Both sides will get three days off before they reconvene for a 7:15pm Wednesday rematch right back at the VFW Sports Center.
Tickets are now on sale for the rare mid-week contest: fans can buy and print tickets 24 hours a day at BismarckBobcats.com, by clicking “Shop Now” on the team Facebook page or by calling 222-3300.
Wednesday’s installment Titan Machinery Dakota Cup will be broadcast live 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—with pregame coverage starting at 6:45pm.
Season tickets are still on sale for the 2015-16 season at a pro-rated price; if you want to beat the rush of over 40,000 fans for this year, now is the time! Call 222-3300 to reserve your seats today.
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