The Bismarck Bobcats have experienced their fair share of struggles over the past month, having lost five consecutive games dating back to Nov. 25.
Closing in on nearly a month without a victory, the Bobcats received a 20-save performance from goaltender Cam Haugenoe on the way to a 5-1 victory over the Austin Bruins at the VFW Sports Center - their first win of December.
“It’s nice to get a win that’s for sure,” Bismarck coach Layne Sedevie said. “There have been some games that I felt we deserved points, and there were some games where I felt we didn’t deserve points. I know we didn’t get a point in Minot last Friday, but I thought we played pretty well and that was a step in the right direction. We didn’t start very well tonight, but I thought we finished very strong.”
Austin jumped out to a quick a 1-0 lead near the midway point of the first period. Forwards AJ Drobot and Tanner Dufault set up Justin Misiak, and the Bruins forward scored his 11th goal of the season.
Bismarck struck back with a game-tying score near the end of the first 20-minute session, however. Forward Tobias Fladeby had his shot attempt knocked down by Bruins starting netminder Alex Schilling, but forward Jared Resseguie swooped in quickly to clean up the loose puck. Resseguie, who notched his sixth goal of the year, got just enough on his shot to slide the puck past the red line for the equalizer.
The second period featured plenty of back-and-forth action, as both Haugenoe and Schilling consistently deflected pucks until the closing minutes when Matt Barry untied the score. With less than two minutes remaining, Barry closed in on the Austin net from the left side of the ice before firing a precision wrist shot past Schilling to give the Bobcats a 2-1 lead. The unassisted goal was Barry’s ninth of the season.
It appeared as though the Bruins had tied the game early in the third period, as a short-handed two-on-one breakaway resulted in a shot sneaking past Haugenoe. The play was reviewed by officials, however, and it was ultimately determined the play had been blown dead before the puck crossed the red line.
“The nice part is that when you don’t give up the next one, you’re not facing a two-goal deficit,” Sedevie said. “For some reason we have played pretty well without a lead, playing with a lead has been our struggle. That was probably the biggest thing tonight, having a lead going into the third a finding a way to get our two points.”
Moments after the Bobcats’ power play had concluded, forward Nick Alexander scored a huge goal to boost the Bismarck lead to two with roughly 15 minutes remaining. Bismarck had been pressing the net, and with Schilling down on the ice following a pair of stops, Alexander sent a shot into the net to sound the horn.
Defensemen Tanner Breidenbach and Tristan Ashbrook each scored in the third period for the Bobcats to effectively seal the victory.
With the win, the Bobcats captured the ever-elusive 24th and 25th points of their season. Bismarck squares off with Austin again tonight at 7:15 p.m., with an opportunity to earn back-to-back victories for the first time since its three-game winning streak from Nov. 18 to Nov. 23.
“Tonight was huge, and you can’t get four points if you don’t get the first two,” Sedevie said. “We wanted to focus on tonight and worry about tomorrow when it comes, but let’s face it, these are a huge four points for us heading into Christmas break.”