by John Peterson
Nothing went the Austin Bruins’ (28-13-1) way Saturday night at Riverside Arena. The Bruins, who were without five every-day skaters, were swept for the first time this season at home in a 7-0 loss to the Bismarck Bobcats (26-13-4).
For the second night in a row, neither team was able to generate very many scoring opportunities in the opening frame, but Bismarck lit the lamp late in the period on the power-play for the only goal. Seven seconds into the man-advantage, Huba Sekesi (Munich, Germany) rifled a one-timer from the top of the right circle into the top shelf at 17:20 of the period for his second goal of the weekend. The roles were reversed from Friday’s game to Saturday’s, as Bismarck carried a lead into the first intermission.
Austin fought for several scoring chances in the second period, but was unable to solve Bismarck goalie Aaron Nelson (Bismarck, ND) who stopped nine shots in the frame. The Bobcats scored their second goal at the 15:07 mark of the period, when Stanislav Dzakhov’s (Moscow, Russia) shot ricocheted off of Bruins goaltender Dillon Kelley’s (Petoskey, MI) glove and over his shoulder into the net. With 1:12 left in the period, Bismarck opened its lead up to 3-0 as Tyler Dunagan (Maple Grove, MN) scored his second goal of the series from low in the right circle.
The flood gates opened in the third period as Dunagan scored his second of the night on the power-play, before Dzakhov and Sekesi tallied their second goal each at even-strength. Evan Geisler (Naperville, IL) got into the act late with the seventh Bismarck goal, and the Bobcats cruised to victory to close the gap in the Central Division to one point. Nelson stopped 19 shots in the shutout for his league-leading 25th win, while Kelley saved 18 shots in his first Bruins loss.
Tuesday, the Bruins travel up to Alaska for five games over two weekends against Kenai River and Fairbanks. Austin will start the trip off by playing the Brown Bears Feb. 6-8 in Soldotna, AK. The following weekend (Feb. 14-15), the Bruins will take on the Ice Dogs in Fairbanks, before returning home. Paint the Rink Pink Night will be the first Saturday that the Bruins are home again (Feb. 22), where the team will sport pink jerseys and auction them off after the game to benefit breast cancer research. Some tickets are still available, but are expected to sell out, so don’t miss out on the special event and buy your tickets today.