There’s still a lot of season ahead, but the Bismarck Bobcats picked up a big victory on Saturday night.
The Bobcats bounced back from a tough loss, posting a 4-1 victory over the Brookings Blizzard at the VFW Sports Center, gaining a split in their weekend series and gaining two big points in the crowded NAHL Central Division standings.
“There’s time left in the season, but there’s not,” Bobcats coach and general manager Layne Sedevie said. “We have to have urgency and we needed to win tonight. That’s the reality of it and we need to get some momentum going.”
Four different players notched goals and Johnny Roberts turned aside 27 of 28 shots he faced for the Bobcats.
“I thought we worked hard tonight,” Sedevie said. “A big thing for us right now is making sure we’ve got effort. You’re not going to play 60 minutes, guys are going to make mistakes, stuff is going to happen. But I thought that was a pretty good effort. As close to 60 minutes as we’ve had in a long time.
“We’re not going to run right now, we want to walk before we can run.”
The Bobcats broke out in front early. Moments after a power-play chance expired, Adam Stacho fired a pass in front of the net for Simon Morberg, who blasted the puck into the net past Brookings goaltender Adam Brizgala. Morberg’s ninth goal of the season gave Bismarck a 1-0 lead at 8:20 of the first period.
Alex Trombley struck early in the second period, scoring his second goal of the season off assists from Sam Malinski and Morberg. Trombley, turning on one skate, fired it into the top of the net for a 2-0 Bismarck advantage.
Late in the second, the Bobcats had a chance to extend the lead. Killing off a Brookings power play, Matej Murin grabbed the puck along the wall at the blue line and headed off on a shorthanded breakaway, drawing a penalty shot opportunity. But Murin lost the handle on the puck skating in close and Brizgala made the stop.
Still, the Bobcats took a two-goal lead into the third.
Matej Murin made it 3-0 early in the third, scoring his sixth of the season on a one-timer with the man advantage at 6:39 for a 3-0 lead.
Brookings spoiled Roberts’ shutout bid when Josh Boyer scored at 9:10 to pull within two goals.
It didn’t faze the Bobcats.
“Last night, I liked our start,” Sedevie said. “We just let it slip away. Tonight I thought we played pretty darn good for 60 minutes. I know they got one about the 11-minute mark but I don’t think it rattled us. I thought we played pretty well from then on.”
Brookings pulled Brizgala for an extra attacker with just over three minutes remaining, but the Bobcats responded. Twice Bismarck hit the post skating shorthanded before Jacob Marti’s game-sealing empty-netter with 8.6 seconds left.
Roberts wasn’t kept too busy, but he came up big when needed.
“He made one on the power play coming across, a kick save,” Sedevie said. “I think we did a better job as a team tonight limiting grade A chances. But obviously when he was called upon, he was very good for us.”
Seven different players had points in the win, led by Morberg with a goal and two assists. Stacho had three assists and Sam Malinski had a pair of assists.
“We need secondary scoring. There have been some guys who have carried us to this point but there is opportunity in the lineup and we need guys to step up,” Sedevie said. “I think some of our younger guys are really starting to emerge into nice hockey players and kind of figuring out what junior hockey is all about.”
The Bobcats hit the road next weekend, traveling to Austin to face the Bruins.