Tyler Richter Controls the Universe

BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats used a six-goal third period, paced by a Tyler Richter hat trick, to rally past the Aberdeen Wings for a 7-2 rout Saturday at the VFW Sports Center, giving the Cats a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals.

Tied 1-1 through two periods, Richter gave the top-seeded Bobcats their first lead of the night a mere 13 seconds into the third as Frank DeAugustine created a defensive zone turnover and fed Richter out front for a point-blank one-timer to make it 2-1 for the home side.

“We were battling hard and playing them tough all night, we just had to keep with it,” explained Richter, who only had one goal during the Cats’ 2011 playoff run. “We were hitting all night, so we knew we were wearing them down. Once the third period rolled around, we created some turnovers and it got the offense going.”

Richter’s go-ahead goal wouldn’t hold up very long, however, as Bobcat killer Steve Obarzanek used a little good fortune to even the score at 2-2 on an Aberdeen power play 4:41 later when his shot was blocked but rolled off the skates of a Bobcat penalty killer and in.

The Bobcats, however, responded with a power play strike of their own as Castan Sommer launched a high shot that deflected off a pair of sticks in front to give the Bobcats the lead back at 3-2 just 89 seconds after Obarzanek tied it. Patrick Moore, one of the players in front of the net, was credited with the go-ahead tally.

Both sides battled to a deadlock over the next nine-plus minutes until Adam Knochenmus hit Shane Omdahl at the side of the Aberdeen net on the rush and Omdahl danced around a poke attempt from Wings goalie Marcus Zelzer and spun home a backhander with 3:54 left in regulation to double the lead to 4-2.

Just 23 seconds later, Richter notched his second of the night after Zelzer made an eye-popping save while falling down on a DeAugustine effort but failed to control the rebound, which Richter slammed in to extend the lead to 5-2.

“Our line [also including Sommer] is just so much fun to play on,” beamed Richter, who has four goals and three assists since Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie assembled the Richter-Sommer-DeAugustine unit. “The puck movement is great and we all just feed off each other so well at both ends of the ice.”

Aberdeen pulled Zelzer with two minutes to go to try and effort a late rally, but could not hold the Bobcat line and Buster Hebda fought through the Wings neutral zone defense to skid a 100-foot shot into the empty Wings net to push the lead to 6-2.

The Bobcats, though, were not done yet as Richter took an entry pass in the final minute of the game from DeAugustine and ripped a low wrister under the glove of Zelzer to give the game its final 7-2 margin and boost Richter to the Bobcats’ first playoff hat trick since Sam Rendle scored three against St. Louis at the 2010 Robertson Cup Tournament.

Play was held up as the Bobcat faithful tossed their hats onto the ice for the first time all year. Both Bobcat regular season hat tricks—by Nick Miglio and Dan Zawacki—occurred in road contests.

Despite the large final margin favoring the Cats, it was Aberdeen who struck first, just 3:21 into the game, as Paul Prescott chipped a Kevin Becker faceoff win over Bobcat goalie Tommy Burke’s right leg to make it 1-0 Wings.

Burke made a tide-turning save minutes later on an Aberdeen 2-on-1 recovering to his left to deny a point-blank chance on Wings forward Justin Parizek, who appeared to have a wide-open net to shoot at before Burke turned him away.

“I was seeing the puck well tonight, even in warmups,” noted Burke, who led the 2011 Robertson Cup Playoffs in goals against average and save percentage. “It’s that time of year; I just have to try and get locked in and give our guys the best chance to win.”

The Bobcats answered with 5:25 to go in the first on their first power play of the night as Danny Ray found a soft spot in the Aberdeen penalty kill and picked the corner over Zelzer’s glove to tie the game at one.

Neither team was able to score in the second before Richter triggered the Bobcats’ offensive explosion to start the third.

Burke made 25 saves to secure his third career playoff win. Zelzer turned in a whopping 46 stops in his playoff debut but was saddled with the loss.

The two sides will reconvene Saturday for Game Two of the Central Division Semifinals at the VFW Sports Center, with the opening puck drop scheduled for 7:15 PM.

Saturday’s pivotal contest 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.

Playoff tickets for the Bobcats’ playoff showdown with the Aberdeen Wings are now on sale for Game Two on April 7! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 to reserve your seats or buy and print your playoff tickets online now at BismarckBobcats.com!