Very Special

MINOT, ND – Needing a big response after a shocking 2-1 loss last Saturday at Maysa Arena, the Bismarck Bobcats took out their frustrations on the Minot Minotauros, crushing their closest geographic rival 8-3 behind a Dan Zawacki hat trick and a near-flawless special teams performance Friday at the Maysa.

Attempting to summon a strong emotional start, the Bobcats instead stumbled out of the gate, allowing a Buster Hebda goal for Minot 86 seconds into the game when goalie Aaron Nelson mis-played a Tim Donohue shot and Hebda skidded the rebound in for a fast 1-0 Minot lead.

That lead nearly grew three minutes later when Jack McFarlane got behind the Bobcat defense for a breakaway, but Nelson was equal to the task and made the stop for a whistle.

Having seen enough, Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie called his only time out of the game in order to fire up his first-place side.

The Bobcats responded, as Grant Mindt drew a holding penalty on Minot’s Clark Anderson which Zawacki cashed in, getting a secondary redirect on a Donald Olivieri point shot that beat Tauros goalie Tim Shaughnessy for a 1-1 tie with 10:54 left in the first.

“Coach told us that we knew tonight’s game wasn’t going to be easy, but if we played down to [Minot] that they’d beat us all night,” recalled Zawacki, who tied Castan Sommer Friday for the team lead in points with 29. “So we knew we had to go out there and play our game and turn things around.”

Rookie forward Nick Turbitt put the Bobcats on the lead 1:40 later, finishing a 3-on-2 rush with a cross-body shot that beat Shaughnessy to make it 2-1 for the visitors. Turbitt now has two goals—his season total—in the Cats’ last two trips to the Maysa.

Friday’s game swung on a critical sequence that started 31 seconds after Turbitt’s go-ahead marker when Olivieri was ejected from the game for a hit from behind on Hebda that touched off a melee behind Nelson’s net that saw Shane Omdahl and Cote Dickerson also kicked out for the Bobcats and Tauros, respectively, and triggered back-to-back-to-back Bobcat penalty kills, including two 5-on-3’s for Minot.

In the face of Minot’s special teams assault and with, at one point, four different players in the penalty box, the Bobcats successfully negated all three penalties to keep the game at 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

Following the wizardry of their league-best penalty kill, the Bobcat power play effectively put the game out of reach early in the second with back-to-back strikes from Zawacki and Patrick Moore to push the lead to 4-1 less than seven minutes into the middle frame.

“We’ve had a rough couple weeks out there on the ‘PP,’ so it was really important for us to create some scoring while Minot was in the box,” admitted Moore, who became the third Bobcat with a double-digit goal total with his second-period power play marker. “I don’t think we expected to start the game 3-for-3 on the ‘PP’ like we did, but that should build some good confidence going forward.”

Clay Blankenship briefly pulled the Tauros back within two with 10:16 left in the second stanza, but Frank DeAugustine pushed the lead back to three on a Moore rebound with 3:16 left in the period to push the lead back to 5-2 and trigger a back-breaking rally for the division-leading Cats.

Zawacki pushed the lead to 6-2 when he finished his hat trick—the team’s second of the year—when a backhander in traffic ricocheted off Shaughnessy and in with 12:19 remaining in regulation, chasing the Minot goalie in favor of regular starter Jake Hebda. Shaughnessy finished with the loss on 21 saves.

Jake Hebda, however, did not fare much better as he surrendered the Bobcats’ fourth power play goal of the night on the third shot he faced as Ryan Callahan pulled a feed from Turbitt into the high slot and fired a wrist shot that bounded off a Minot defender and in for a 7-2 score with 10:24 to go.

Callahan’s goal gave the Bobcats a dazzling 4-for-6 night on the power play to complement a perfect 6-for-6 night killing penalties.

“We’re starting to know what we’ll get night in and night out from the penalty kill,” assessed Sedevie, whose team became the NAHL’s second team to 20 wins in 2011-12, “but if the power play can take advantage like they did tonight on a regular basis again, there’s no telling where this team can go.”

Moore notched his second of the night 3:39 after Callahan’s strike when an attempted clear by Jake Hebda was stolen by Tyler Richter and cleared to a wide-open Moore, who swept the pass into a wide-open net as the Minot goalie attempted to scramble back into position after the giveaway.

McFarlane closed the book on Friday’s scoring with 6:25 left in the game, finding space on the left side of the Bobcat zone and beaming a rising blast over Nelson’s blocker for the final 8-3 margin.

Nelson secured his sixth straight win of the year behind 24 saves. Jake Hebda, twin brother of goal-scorer Buster, made five stops but did not factor into the decision.

The Bobcats and Minotauros will wrap up their two-game weekend series Saturday with an 8:00 PM scheduled start at the Maysa.

Saturday’s rematch 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 Pregame coverage gets under way at 7:30. Fans can watch the game—and all away contests—live at Reza’s Pitch at Third and Front in Bismarck, the official away game home of Bobcat Hockey.

Season tickets are now on sale for the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for this season!