Herdt, Brown Rally Bobcats to Game Two Win
BISMARCK, ND – Behind over half way through the first period, the Bismarck Bobcats got a combined six points from Aaron Herdt and Willie Brown to storm back and seize a 5-3 win over the Brookings Blizzard at the VFW Sports Center and claim a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five-game Central Division Semifinals.
With 9:22 remaining in the opening frame, the Bobcats found themselves down 1-0 when Nick Ford struck on the power play by getting Bobcat goalie Hunter Shepard to lean just far enough off the left post to sneak a backhander inside the iron.
Herdt, however, got the Bobcats back to level footing at 1-1 at the 4:42 mark, taking a pass from Brown at the bottom of the left wing circle and rocketing a sharp-angle wrister over the blocker of netminder Josh Kuemichel and in for his second goal of the postseason.
Tempers flared in a second period that featured 26 combined penalty minutes, with the Bobcats pulling ahead 2-1 with 10:00 to go in the frame as Brown cashed in a scramble in front of Kuemichel’s cage on a 5-on-3 power play.
Just 3:08 later, Herdt padded the cushion to 3-1 with another power play tally, burying a one-timer off a cross-ice pass from Alex Strand, eliciting a thunderous roar from the 1,175 fans in attendance.
Brookings struck back with a power play marker of their own as, for the second night in a row, Mikael Hakkarainen cut the lead to 3-2 from the right circle—this time snapping home a one-timer from Kane Durment with 1:16 left in the middle stanza.
On the other side of intermission, the Bobcats wasted no time in re-establishing a two-goal advantage: Oskars Batna found a seam in the Blizzard defense on an entry pass from Solag Bakich and hurried a low shot past Kuemichel to push the score to 4-2 a mere 18 seconds into the third.
Ford kept Brookings within striking distance with 8:05 to go in regulation, capitalizing on a turnover at the Bobcat blue line and blazing a snap shot past Shepard’s glove to bring the Blizzard back to within one at 4-3.
As they did Friday, the Bobcat defense stymied any hopes of a Blizzard comeback following Ford’s second goal, blocking numerous attempts while allowing just four shots in the final eight minutes of the frame.
In a last-ditch effort to draw even, Brookings lifted Kuemichel for an extra attacker, but Harrison Aide put the game on ice with an empty-netter with 34 seconds left to give the game its final 5-3 margin.
Shepard picked up the win behind a 28-save effort; Kuemichel dropped his second decision despite 33 stops.
Following a six-day layoff, the Central Division semifinals will resume with Game Three on Friday, scheduled for a 7:30pm puck drop in Brookings at Larson Ice Center.
Friday’s road playoff contest 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 7:00pm.
Tickets are now on sale for the Cats’ run in the 2016 Robertson Cup Playoffs and are already going fast! Lock in yours for the entire playoff run by signing up for 2016-17 season tickets today.
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