BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats fought through the wizardry of Steve Obarzanek and rallied from two separate deficits to claim a 4-2 win over the Aberdeen Wings in game six of the 2011-12 Titan Machinery Dakota Cup Wednesday at the VFW Sports Center.
Obarzanek, who entered the game fifth in the NAHL with 15 goals, notched his ninth of the year against the Bobcats to open the scoring with 10:12 left in the opening frame, grabbing a Joseph Sullivan rebound and beaming a shot that beat Bobcats goalie Tommy Burke bar-down for a 1-0 Aberdeen lead.
“I don’t know, I just think [Obarzanek] has our number; his eyes must get as big as saucers when he sees ‘Bismarck’ on the schedule,” conceded Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose team grabbed a 12-1 lead in the Dakota Cup standings. “What a shot he put on, there. I don’t think Tommy had a chance. [Obarzanek]’s a heck of a player.”
Following the opening strike, both teams stayed deadlocked for over 15 minutes of hockey as Wings netminder Hunter Leisner stopped the first 18 shots he saw, protecting a shutout deep into the second period.
The Bobcats broke Leisner’s spell and tied the game at one with 4:37 left in the middle frame when Dan Zawacki took a goal line feed from Adam Knochenmus and skied a backhander over Leisner.
“Adam made a great play to get the puck in the zone, and we all thought he should’ve drawn a penalty along the wall, but he still managed to get the puck out to me while he was going down,” recalled Zawacki, who is now tied with Castan Sommer for the Bobcats’ team lead in points with 26. “When I got free at the goal line I saw I had a lot of space so I got to the net and made sure I got a good shot off.”
Obarzanek, however, would have something to say about the 1-1 tie early in the third when a Cory Ward rebound bounced off a Bobcat defender’s stick straight to the scalding-hot forward, giving him room to bury the loose puck for a 2-1 Wings edge just 5:06 into the final stanza.
It took just over seven minutes for the Bobcats to answer in the third, getting the equalizer from Frank DeAugustine who, while being hauled to the ground and drawing a delayed penalty, one-timed a back-door pass from Knochenmus past a sliding Leisner, leveling the match at 2-2.
That equalizer touched off a late rally for the Cats as DeAugustine followed up his eighth of the year with a low slot pass on the power play to captain Bryce Schmitt, who redirected DeAugustine’s effort to the top corner of Leisner’s net—boosting the home side to their first lead at 3-2 with just 3:12 left to go in regulation.
“We’ve been working on that play all week in practice, with Frankie making that pass along the goal line to try and use me as a power forward in front,” noted Schmitt, who first earned power play time two weeks ago with DeAugustine and Zawacki, “and Frankie is so good… the pass he made, I barely had to move my stick to get it on net.
“Our power play has been struggling so it’s a big deal to get a goal like that on the ‘PP’ in that situation.”
The Bobcats finished 1-for-3 on the power play while killing off all three of the Wings’ man advantages.
Tyler Richter put the finishing touches on the Cats’ fifth straight win, snapping home an empty netter with 0.5 seconds showing on the clock.
Burke shut down 22 Aberdeen shots en route to his 13th win of 2011-12 while Leisner dropped to 0-5-1 against the Bobcats and 6-10-2 overall behind 30 saves.
The Bobcats continue their holiday week slate with a 7:15 PM showdown against their neighbors to the north, the Minot Minotauros, on Thanksgiving Night at the VFW Sports Center.
Thursday’s holiday special—the Cats’ third annual Thanksgiving event—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 now on sale for the 2011-12 season—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email email@example.com for more information on reserving a pro-rated package for this season!