BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats tied a franchise record with their 12th straight home win of 2011-12 Saturday, wrapping up a two-game weekend sweep of the Coulee Region Chill with a dominating 6-3 win at the VFW Sports Center.
It was the Bobcats’ seventh straight win and 30th overall, clinching a season series win over the Chill by a final count of three games to one. Of the teams they’ve played more than once, the Bobcats have already clinched season series against Coulee Region, Aberdeen, Minot and Dawson Creek.
Much to the delight of the Bobcat coaching staff, Saturday’s win lacked the suspense and drama of Friday’s 4-3 shootout victory.
“[Friday] we played flat for about 54 minutes and managed to find a way to win,” recalled Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie. “Tonight we came out and had a great first period, outshot Coulee 20-3 and played a much more complete game.”
Despite the lopsided shot total after one, the Bobcats only carried a 1-0 lead into the first period on Tyler Richter’s 17th goal of the year when the Bismarck High grad slapped home a centering feed from Patrick Moore with 2:38 left in the frame.
Coulee Region evened the score at one 3:51 into the second when former Minot Minotauro Jack McCartan slammed a Myles Maltz rebound past Bobcat netminder Aaron Nelson.
Donald Olivieri answered 2:42 later, taking a drop pass from Adam Knochenmus, dekeing through the Chill defense and rolling a backhander in traffic through the legs of Coulee Region goalie Aaron Davis to post the Bobcats to a lead they would not give back at 2-1.
“We weren’t really fazed [when the Chill tied the game],” noted Olivieri, who leads all NAHL defensemen with 12 goals, “we kept our heads in it because we knew we’d been dominating them all night so there was a lot of confidence that we’d put one right back in sooner or later.”
Castan Sommer extended the lead to 3-1 on the power play 1:40 after Olivieri’s go-ahead tally, redirecting a mid-range shot by Richter past Davis to give the Cats their sixth straight game with at least one power play goal.
The Chill cut the lead in half with 1:48 to go in the second as Mac Jansen slammed home a Cory Lushanko rebound and celebrated jubilantly as he made it a 3-2 game.
Richter wasted no time responding, burying a John Furgele rebound with 14 seconds left in the middle frame for his second of the night, giving the Cats a little breathing room at 4-2 heading into the second intermission.
The Bobcats downplayed the effect of Jansen’s celebration as a motivating factor a night after the Coulee Region forward touched off a battle of escalating celebrations in Friday’s shootout.
“I think it goes both ways,” admitted Sedevie, whose 2011-12 squad’s total of 30 wins in January is one shy of the Bobcats’ win total for the entire 2010-11 season, “we certainly have guys who like to get out there and chirp, so it’s hard to say one guy or one celebration fired us up.”
Sommer pushed the lead to 5-2 just 2:12 into the third on a 5-on-3 power play, taking a back door feed from Danny Ray and blasting it past a sprawling Davis for some big-time insurance.
The Bobcats did not relent the pressure for the balance of the game, either, as Furgele deflected a shot from Olivieri past Davis for a comfortable 6-2 spread with 8:45 to go.
A bit of bad luck for the Bobcats lead to the final score of 6-3 as Furgele blew an edge while attempting to clear a puck out of the defensive zone, giving Chill forward Tyler Klein a short breakaway that he cashed in over the blocker of Nelson with 6:41 to go in regulation.
Nelson needed only 17 saves to turn in his ninth win of the year. The former Century High standout is 9-0-1 in ten starts since suffering a 4-2 loss to Kalamazoo in September.
On the other side, Davis made 41 saves but saw his record drop to 11-13-6 on the year.
The Bobcats will wrap up their five-game January homestand with a 7:15 PM Friday contest against the Aberdeen Wings at the VFW Sports Center.
Friday’s Titan Machinery Dakota Cup matchup 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for the rest of the season!