AUSTIN, MN – The Bruins couldn’t hold a 3-2 lead entering the third period and ultimately fell in a shootout to the Bismarck Bobcats on Friday night at Riverside Arena. They picked up a point on the fourth place Aberdeen Wings, however – and sit six points behind the Wings for the final Central Division playoff spot with nine games remaining.
The Bruins scored twice in the first period to lead 2-0 after one. Jack Murphy deposited a loose puck past Bobcat goaltender Severi Isokangas less than a minute into the opening period, with assists going to Travis Kothenbeutel and AJ Drobot. At 12:30, Jon Richards, who had missed the prior two games due to suspension, scored a similar goal to make it 2-0. Linemates Cole Lawrence and Justin Misiak assisted. The Bruins held a 10-6 shot edge after one.
Bismarck dominated the second and got an early goal from Tristan Ashbrook to cut the lead in half. After three consecutive penalty kills against the league’s fourth best power play, the Bruins allowed the tying goal at 5 on 5 when Matt Barry finished off a Cooper Haar net drive at 12:28. Just over a minute later, the Bruins would regain the lead when Jan Stefka cut into the Bismarck zone and ripped a shot past Isokangas – one of only four in the period for the Bruins who were outshot 10-4, but led 3-2 heading into the third.
Mitch Wallinski snapped an eight game point-less drought when he scored at 2:35 of the third to tie it at three, a prayer from the right wing boards that caromed off of Jake Kucharski’s shoulder and in. Kucharski played a strong game overall however, and helped keep the game tied heading into overtime.
There were limited chances in the sudden death 3-on-3, setting the stage for a shootout in which Tobias Fladeby would score the only goal amidst six shooters. Richards, Evan Cholak, and Murphy were stopped by Isokangas while Barry and Nick Alexander misfired for the Bobcats.
Bismarck’s win pulled them within two of the Wings and four ahead of the Bruins, setting up a pivotal re-match on Saturday night at Riverside Arena. The Bruins will honor their billet families with a pregame ceremony. It’s also QPP Employee Night with $5 admission at the door for all Quality Pork Processor employees. Game time is 7:05 with doors opening at 6:00. Fans who cannot make the game can watch live on HockeyTV.com