Bobcats to Miss First Playoffs Since 2008 as Heroic Rally Falls Short
BISMARCK, ND – Down 4-0 over halfway through the third, the Bismarck Bobcats popped off three straight goals but could not complete a mighty comeback—falling 5-3 to the Austin Bruins, eliminating the Cats from postseason contention for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
When Austin winger Jack Murphy tapped in a loose puck 9:40 into the final frame, the Bobcats found themselves in a deep, 4-0 hole.
Just 90 seconds later, however, the home side found a pulse when alternate captain Nick Alexander wrapped home his 15th goal of the season on the power play to pull the Cats within 4-1.
With goalie Severi Isokangas pulled for an extra attacker, 1996 birthyear Tobias Fladeby cut the score to 4-2, collecting a loose puck a foot outside the crease and raising a close-range backhander over the blocker of Austin netminder Jake Kucharski with 2:22 to go.
The Bobcats winnowed the Austin advantage down to 4-3 with exactly one minute to go when Jordan Fralich—another 1996—redirected a Chase Hartje shot from the low slot inside the right post to bring the crowd of 1,049 to its feet.
Though the Cats would get one more chance on Kucharski, second-year Bruin center Travis Kothenbuetel dashed the Bobcats’ playoff hopes, hoisting a sky-high shot from center ice into the empty net with 12 seconds left for the 5-3 final.
Austin claimed a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play, bookending goals from Quinn Martin and Justin Misiak to quiet the Alumni Weekend partisans.
Dante Zapata added a measure of insurance for the visitors with 9:13 left in the second, capitalizing on a Murphy centering pass after a Bobcat turnover for a 3-0 count through two.
Isokangas made 27 stops but suffered his eighth loss of 2017. Kucharski piled up 36 saves—including 18 in the third period—to scratch out his 13th victory of the year.
Season Twenty of Bobcat Hockey will come to a close Saturday with a rematch at the VFW Sports Center between last season’s division finals participants.
Tickets are now on sale for Saturday’s contest: fans can buy and print their tickets 24 hours a day online at BismarckBobcats.com or charge by phone at 222-3300.
Saturday’s season finale will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270 AM, and worldwide on HockeyTV.com–the web television partner of the North American Hockey League–with pregame coverage starting at 6:50pm.
Season tickets for the 2017-18 campaign are now available for pre-order: fans can get more information or reserve their seats for all of next year now by calling 222-3300 or by texting TICKETS to 701-390-7422.