The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Bobcat team Saturday. They trailed by a goal with but 40 minutes left to play.
The Bismarck Bobcats are a .500 hockey team when they surrender the first goal. They’re a losing team when trailing after one period.
No matter. When the Bobcats left the VFW Sports Center ice after 20 minutes trailing Aberdeen 1-0 they figured they had the Wings right in their gunsights.
Part of that optimism was well founded. Bismarck went on to a 3-2 NAHL victory.
Even though they trailed, the Bobcats outshot the visitors 13-10 in the opening period.
“We just needed to keep getting shots,” said defenseman Ryan Callahan, who scored Bismarck’s first goal. “We knew we had them. We outworked them the whole first period. It was just a matter of time.”
Just when it appeared the first session would be a scoreless standoff, Emil Blomqvist made a play for Aberdeen. Blomqvist made a steal at mid-ice, broke down the right side and slid the puck to linemate Jonathan Grebosky. Grebosky beat goalie Aaron Nelson from the bottom of the left circle at 18:26.
Callahan, an 18-year-old forward, quickly went to work after the first break, scoring at 2:27 on a long pass from Joe Giordano. Callahan beat goalie Chad Catt with a close-in high shot with the equalizer.
The remainder of the middle period belonged to the Bobcats, who outshot the Wings 14-1.
A tenacious Adam Knochenmus put Bismarck ahead 2-1 just over four minutes later. Knochenmus fired from the top of the slot and Catt made the save. Mike Dockry captured the rebound and fed Knochenmus in the slot for a goal at 7:03.
Bob Kinne provided the Bobcats with an insurance goal late in the period, converting a perfect pass from Cory Chapman at the left post with 3:13 left in the period.
“In the second period ... we lost the 1-on-1 battles for the loose pucks,” said Garret Strot, who took over as the Wings head coach eight games ago. “... It was like (Bismarck) was a bigger and stronger team and we let them be that way.”
The third period was filled with more penalties than action. The officials doled out 10 penalties, six against Aberdeen. Two of the miscues were whistled against Aberdeen forward Justin Parizek. He was called for a major and game misconduct after barreling into Bismarck’s Rory Vesel along the boards in Aberdeen’s offensive end.
As a consequence, Parizek must sit out the Wings’ upcoming game at Minot on Friday.
Callahan said there was an underlying reason for the third-period extracurriculars.
“There’s a rivalry with these guys and I guess we’re getting under their skin,” he said.
With the victory, the Bobcats improved to 21-13-2 for 44 points. They have 14 victories in their last 19 starts.
Aberdeen dropped its 14th straight game, slipping to 8-24-4 with 20 points.
The Bobcats play again on Friday, playing host to Brookings.
Aberdeen 1 0 0 — 1
Bobcats 0 3 0 — 3
First period: 1. A, Jonathan Grebosky (Emil Blomqvist, Patrick Steinhauer), 18:26. Penalties: A, Justin Parizek (tripping), 14:14.
Second period: 2. B, Ryan Callahan (Joe Giordano, Filip Starzynski), 2:27. 3. B, Adam Knochenmus (Mike Dockry, Sam Wolfe), 7:03. 3. B, Bob Kinne (Cory Chapman, Jeremy O’Keefe), 16:47. Penalties: A, Erik Baskin (slashing), 10:43. A, Jake Horton (head contact), 18:26.
Third period: No scoring. Penalties: A, Parizek (checking from behind major and game misconduct), 7:11 A, Horton (roughing), 7:11. B, Levi Blom (roughing), 7:11. A, Carl Witty (delay of game), 14:44. B, Matt Anders (delay of game), 14:44. A, Horton (slashing), 15:38. B, Rory Vesel (roughing), 15:38. A, Niklas Mayrhauser (delay of game), 16:22. B, Starzynski (delay of game), 16:22.
Goalie saves: A — Chad Catt 13-11-10 — 34. B — Aaron Nelson 9-1-4 — 14.
Penalties: A 7 minor, 1 major, 1 game misconduct. B 4 minors.
Records: Aberdeen 8-24-4, Bobcats 21-13-2.