The Big 'D'
Bobcats Lock down Blizzard
BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats denied a would-be rally by the Brookings Blizzard and emerged victorious 2-1 in a defensive struggle Friday at the VFW Sports Center behind 40 saves by goalie Aaron Nelson.
It was the Bobcats who struck first Friday, making it 1-0 on a 4-on-2 power play rush when Nate Repensky grabbed a shot blocked away from Bob Kinne and zipped it through the five-hole of Brookings starting goaltender Erick Majerle with 8:12 to go in the first period.
A mere 41 seconds later, Ryan Callahan doubled the lead to 2-0 in transition, gloving down a cross-ice pass from Cory Chapman and wiring a shot through Majerle’s legs for his second goal in as many games.
“We want to be able to get Ryan playing with some confidence,” remarked Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie on his second-year forward who was playing in his fourth game after missing over three months to a broken back, “because he’s such a difference-maker out there for us. Cory made a great pass and then Cally made a smart play to glove it down and put a good shot on.”
Brookings head coach Cory Laylin lifted Majerle following Callahan’s tally, replacing him with netminder Drew Weigman, who shut out the Cats at the VFW Sports Center on January 5 and entered the weekend 2-0-0 against the black and gold.
Weigman’s arrival paid dividends 6:50 into the second period when the rookie stopper denied a short breakaway for Bobcat assistant captain Filip Starzynski.
At the 8:14 mark of the second period, while Starzynski served a holding penalty, Eric Brenk put the Blizzard on the board at 2-1, stuffing home an Evan Hesse rebound for the lone blemish on Nelson’s night.
Just 14 seconds after Brenk’s power play strike, Nelson made a game-changing save on Brookings forward Tyler Cayemberg by ranging four feet out of his crease to challenge a snap shot on a 2-on-1 Blizzard rush to prevent a would-be equalizer.
In the third period, each team enjoyed a pair of power plays, but could not convert.
After a late man advantage for Brookings, the Bobcat defense and forecheck locked down: not allowing the Blizzard a shot on Nelson for the final 4:18 of regulation.
As Laylin attempted to pull Weigman for the extra attacker, Starzynski, Kinne, Joe Giordano and Matt Anders combined to hem the Blizzard in their own end for the majority of the final two minutes of play, keeping the visitors outside of the Bobcat blue line until there were just three seconds left on the clock.
“We told our forwards at the end of the game that we wanted puck possession—nothing fancy,” elaborated Sedevie. “Filip and Joe and then Matty and Bob did a great job at the end of just selling out and working hard to keep it deep. I think Matt and Bob kept it below the tops of the circles for almost 50 seconds in the last minute and a half; that’s defensive, playoff-style hockey and those guys made it happen.”
Despite a light workload in the closing minutes of the contest, Nelson piled up 40 saves for his 15th win of 2012-13. It is the third time this season that the Century High grad has totaled 40 or more stops this season.
Majerle took the loss on just seven saves; Weigman stopped all 24 shots he saw and has not allowed a goal to the Bobcats in seven-plus periods, dating back to the middle frame of the Cats’ first visit to Brookings on November 9.
The two sides will reconvene for a 7:15 PM rematch Saturday at the VFW Sports Center.
Tickets for the contest are on sale by calling the Bobcat Box Office at 222-3300; fans can buy and print tickets online right now at BismarckBobcats.com. For Saturday’s game, the first 200 children through the door will get $4.00 tickets, courtesy of Hollevoet Orthodontics.
Saturday’s weekend finale 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 PM.
Pro-rated season tickets for the 2012-13 season are now on sale—and going fast! Call the Bobcat Hockey office today at (701) 222-3300 to reserve your seats for another great season of Championship Entertainment.