The Bismarck Bobcats came away with a point for Saturday night’s shootout loss to the Brookings Blizzard, but they were more concerned about the one they let slip away.
Three times the Bobcats gained the upper hand against Brookings, and three times they failed to maintain it. They outshot the Blizzard in each of the three periods of regulation and in overtime — 39-24 overall. They had a healthy advantage in quality chances.
But they couldn’t close the deal.
“We had the lead three times and just let them back in the game,” Bobcats coach Layne Sedevie said.
Bismarck got on the board just 2:30 into the game on a pretty goal. Shane Omdahl weaved behind the net and centered to Stanislav Dzakhov, who one-timed it for his fourth goal in nine games with the Bobcats.
But Bismarck goalie Aaron Nelson made a costly error a few minutes later. With the Bobcats on the power play, Nelson strayed far from his net for a loose puck. Nelson won the race, but the Blizzard’s Eric Brenk got a stick on his pass. The puck deflected to Drew Brevig, who had no trouble finding the empty net for the short-handed goal.
Bismarck regained the lead at 16:10 of the first. Matt Anders fired one past Drew Weigman for his third of the season. But Conor Andrle evened it up before the end of the period.
The Bobcats recaptured the advantage at 15:57 of the second period. Newly acquired Travis Underwood set up Adam Knochenmus on a 2-on-1, and Knochenmus buried the chance for his 17th goal of the year.
Brookings again drew even with 1:30 to play in the second, but not without some controversy.
Grand Forks product Casey Purpur went crashing into the net in pursuit of a rebound. As the Bismarck goal — and goalie — went flying, the puck crossed the line. It was ruled a good goal, much to the consternation of the Bismarck bench.
“I understand it’s a good play to go to the net,” Sedevie said. “But if you impede the goaltender’s ability to make the save, I don’t know how it’s not goaltender interference. He said that it was a bang-bang play, and that was the bottom line.”
The Bobcats had a couple of excellent chances to win the game in the third period. A redirect attempt by Patrick Moore with eight minutes to go went just wide. And in the final minute of regulation, Weigman made a great save on Underwood, allowing no rebound.
Weigman, who was excellent all weekend — including a long, scoreless relief stint on Friday — was at his best in the shootout. He stopped all four Bismarck shooters and finished with 36 saves.
Brenk and Andrle scored for Brookings, giving the Blizzard the extra point for the shootout win.
Bismarck, which had been 8-2-0 in its last 10 games, remains in second place, two points up on Minot and five ahead of Brookings.
But Sedevie expressed his frustration at losing a winnable game.
“The first goal was a fluky goal. We can figure that out and battle back from that,” he said. “But the other two, you can’t have those mistakes.
“... The way that they play, they just sit back and let you play into what they want,” Sedevie added. “If you force pucks up the middle of the ice, they end up in the back of your net. It’s pretty simple. It’s cut and dry.”
Brookings 2 1 0 0 1 — 4
Bobcats 2 1 0 0 0 — 3
First period: 1. Bis, Stanislav Dzakhov 4 (Shane Omdahl, Mike Dockry), 2:30. 2. Brk, Drew Brevig 6 (Eric Brenk), 8:08 (sh). 3. Bis, Matt Anders 5 (Bob Kinne), 16:10. 4. Brk, Conor Andrle 3 (Brenk), 18:43. Penalties: Brk, Casey Purpur (roughing), 6:13. Brk, Spencer Peratalo, major (fighting), 8:20. Bis, Joe Giordano, major (fighting), 8:20. Bis, Sam Wolfe (tripping), 9:53. Brk, Brenk (delay of game), 10:06. Bis, Rory Vesel (delay of game), 10:06. Brk, Brenk (cross-checking), 13:39.
Second period: 5. Bis, Adam Knochenmus 17 (Travis Underwood, Patrick Moore), 15:57. 6. Brk, Casey Purpur 2 (Thomas Williams, Peratalo), 18:30. Penalties: Bis, Joe Hockert (holding), 1:48.
Third period: No scoring. Penalties: Brk, Matt Youso (checking from behind), 3:30. Bis, Filip Starzynski (delay of game), 12:47.
Overtime: No scoring. Penalties: None.
Shootout: Brk 2 (Brenk, Andrle), Bis 0.
Goalie saves: Brk — Drew Weigman 36. Bis — Aaron Nelson 20.
Penalties: Brk 4 minors, 1 major. Bis 4 minors, 1 major.
Records: Brk 20-15-2; Bis 22-13-3.