Missed Chances Costly for Bobcats as Playoff Hopes Teeter
BROOKINGS, SD – Despite spending the majority of Friday’s game outplaying their opposition, missed chances burned the Bismarck Bobcats in a 4-2 road loss to the Brookings Blizzard at Larson Ice Center, pushing the Cats to the brink of elimination from the playoff chase.
It was the Bobcats who struck first Friday when Tobias Fladeby banked a negative-angle shot in off Brookings netminder Josh Boyko 7:07 into the game.
On the very next shift, rookie winger Tristan Ashbrook nearly doubled the lead on a breakaway from Cooper Haar but could not beat Boyko five-hole.
Brookings made the Bobcats pay for the miss, tying the game at one with 6:55 left in the opening frame on a shorthanded goal by Connor Koviak, who redirected in a crossing pass from Paul Cotter for the equalizer.
The Bobcats piled up four golden scoring chances in the period’s final four minutes, but struggled to hit the net and were twice denied by Boyko in the frame’s closing seconds to keep the score knotted 1-1.
Just 1:15 into the second, the Blizzard took the lead in transition when Brenden Stanko struck on the back door in transition.
Two goals from Koviak and Cotter in a 2:57 span saw the Cats fall behind 4-2 with 2:51 left in the second.
Not ready to give up on their chances at a postseason berth, the Bobcats attempted to rally: getting a goal on the forecheck from Mitch Walinski, who beat Boyko low to get the Cats within 4-2 with 15:09 to go.
Though they sent chance after chance on net, the visitors could not solve Boyko again and a late penalty kill ended the Bobcats’ designs on a comeback with a 4-2 final.
Goalie Camden Haugenoe collected 23 saves but could not avoid his first loss all year to the Blizzard. Boyko made 24 stops for the victory.
With Friday’s setback, the Bobcats (27-28-2, 56 pts) fell five points behind Brookings (28-24-5, 61 pts) for the Central Division’s fourth and final playoff spot with just three games left to play. The Cats’ only clear path to the playoffs now is to win out, while either Brookings or Aberdeen (28-23-6, 62 pts) must lose out for the Bobcats to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Now a must-win, the Bobcats will play their last away contest of 2016-17 with a Saturday rematch against the Blizzard scheduled for 7:05pm at Larson Ice Center.
Saturday’s road 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 6:40pm.
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.