Youngsters Help Bobcats Outlast Blizzard 3-1
BROOKINGS, SD – A trio of 18-year-olds helped the Bismarck Bobcats bounce back Saturday as Nick Alexander and Brock Montgomery each scored and goalie Nick Althaus made 24 saves to deliver a 3-1 road win over the Brookings Blizzard at the Larson Ice Center.
An evenly played first period saw the teams deadlocked through the majority of the frame until a Bobcat penalty kill when Alex Strand tapped a loose puck in his own zone through to Alexander, who sped past Brookings’ defense and outmaneuvered Blizzard netminder Josh Kuemichel on the ensuing breakaway for a 1-0 lead with 5:37 remaining in the first.
Lightly tested in the first, Althaus broke out in the second stanza with highlight-reel saves on Mikael Hakkarainen and Nick Ford to help keep the Cats ahead by one through 40 minutes.
Early in the third, Montgomery—named North Dakota’s State Senior Athlete for hockey one week prior with Red River High School—grabbed a loose puck after Joe Tyran had his shot blocked and threaded a low 40-footer that caught Kuemichel off balance, sneaking inside the left post just 2:17 into the third to stretch the score to 2-0.
Brookings refused to go quietly, however; the Blizzard got on the board and spoiled Althaus’ shutout bid with 6:21 to go in the game as Connor Hutchins slammed in a Colton Schmidt rebound on the power play to get the home side back within one at 2-1.
Undeterred by allowing a goal for the first time at the junior level, Althaus stopped the next five shots that came his way before Strand sealed the contest’s final 3-1 margin with an empty netter in the game’s last three seconds.
Althaus—who is a finalist for Minnesota’s Frank Brimsek Award for the top high school goalie in the state (awarded Sunday in St. Paul)—picked up his first career win in his first start. Kuemichel turned in 29 stops but slipped to 9-10-2 on the year.
With Minot (28-17-5, 61 pts) idle, Saturday’s victory propelled the Bobcats (31-16-1, 63 pts) back into sole possession of first place in the Central Division. It also reduced the Cats’ magic number (points gained plus points lost by Brookings and Minnesota) to clinch their eighth straight playoff spot to two.
The Bobcats’ three-game road swing continues Friday at Riverside Arena, where the black and gold will square off against the rival Austin Bruins in a 7:05pm bout to open a two-game weekend.
Saturday’s pivotal showdown 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 6:35pm.
Season tickets are still on sale for the 2015-16 season at a pro-rated price; if you want to beat the rush of over 40,000 fans for this year, now is the time! Call 222-3300 to reserve your seats today.
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