BISMARCK, ND – Three first period goals by the Bobcats was plenty for Hunter Shepard and the Bismarck defense as they claimed a 5-1 game one win on Friday night at VFW Sports Center to open the Central Division Finals.
Setting the tone 44 seconds in was Solag Bakich, who got behind the Bruins defense and took a feed from Willie Brown, lifting it over Kris Carlson for the very early 1-0 Bismarck advantage. At 13:27, the Bobcats took quick action on a power play and Alex Strand banged home a rebound to make it 2-0. Just under four minutes later, a Dalton Gally turnover below the Bruins goal line became a 2-on-0 in front and Frankie Melton set up Parker Mismash for a 3-0 Bismarck edge – which was the score at the end of one period.
The Bobcats struck early again in the 2nd period when Aaron Herdt used Marcus Karlstrom as a screen and beat Carlson with a wrist shot at 1:12 to extend the lead to 4-0. It was the only goal of a 2nd period that saw the Bruins hold an 8-4 shot edge, but nothing to show for it.
In the 3rd, Strand scored his 2nd of the game to make it 5-0 as Garrett Nelson's backdoor pass went through several bodies to the open Strand. Carlson was pulled for Robbie Goor. The Bruins got their lone goal at 7:21 when Hunter Shepard skated out of his net and turned the puck over up the wall to Jacob Paganelli, who shot it into a vacated net for his third goal of the playoffs. The Bruins outshot Bismarck 11-4 in the 3rd period, but Shepard held strong the rest of the way.
The teams will play game two on Saturday night at VFW Sports Center starting at 7:15. Fans can watch the game on FASTHockey.com (AWAY feed) or listen on AM 1480 KAUS in Austin or online at myaustinminnesota.com, starting at 7:05.