The Bismarck Bobcats played their final home game of the NAHL hockey season Saturday night, a contest that was buried under an avalanche of penalties.
For the record, Central Division-leading Aberdeen skated to a 5-1 victory with five different players garnering goals.
All that was lost, however amid 24 penalties totaling 72 minutes. Aberdeen was whistled for nine minors. Bismarck picked up 12 minors and three 10-minute misconducts, two for unsportsmanlike conduct and one for abuse of an official.
The game was competitive through two periods, with the visiting Wings leading 2-1 after 40 minutes. Aberdeen sealed the deal, however, with three unanswered markers by Riley Murphy, John Sladic and Dalton Weigel in the final period.
Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie was unavailable after the game, but assistant coach Garrett Roth put the overflow of penalties squarely at the feet of the officiating crew.
“You’re going to have to ask the referee why they called 50 minutes of penalties,” Roth said.
“It seemed like every time we hit somebody and they went down (the officials) called a penalty,” Roth added.
The 55-minute second period became a penalty circus with the Bobcats drawing eight calls, including a misconduct. Aberdeen, meanwhile, was called for six minors.
Each team scored once amid all the mid-game trips to the penalty box. Jonathan Bendorf connected to put Aberdeen ahead 2-0 and Jake Olson answered with Bismarck’s goal.
The Bobcats missed on two golden opportunities in the early going, and Aberdeen came away with the only goal of the first period.
Four minutes in, Bismarck center George Grannis, crashing in from the right wing, got a feed from the left circle, but his shot was smothered by goalie Matt Vernon.
Two minutes later, Jacob Marti broke away, courtesy of an airborne lead pass, but Vernon was again equal to the task and preserved the scoreless tie.
Colton Fletcher broke the deadlock with a power-play goal at 11:29, redirecting Andrew Sinard’s blast from the blue line past goaltender John Roberts.
Roberts had a busy night facing 48 shots. The Bobcats launched 32 shots.
Roth said he couldn’t fault Bismarck’s effort on Saturday.
“The guys played hard. They played physical hockey, but there was some after-the-whistle stuff we’ve got to clean up,” he said. “The guys competed hard. We had a pretty good effort.”
The setback leaves the Bobcats 24-28-6 going into next week’s season-ending series at Austin, Minn.