BISMARCK, ND – The Austin Bruins trip to the Dakotas continues to be a struggle, as they fell on Friday night to the Bismarck Bobcats, 5-1.
Bismarck wasted no time getting the ball rolling, finding the back of the net for the first time on the night less than two-and-a-half minutes into the first period. Veteran Ryan Taylor found a loose puck off a rebound and slammed it home past netminder Tyler Shea for the 1-0 Bobcat lead. The home-team Bobcats added a second goal in the opening frame when George Grannis, aided by a two-on-one, netted his fourth goal of the season.
In the second period, the Bobcats added a couple more goals to widen their lead. The third goal of the night came off the stick of Lars Rodne on the power-play. The Norwegian born forward walked up the right-wing side into the faceoff circle and pulled the trigger. His shot redirected off a Bruins defender out front and deflected the puck into the ice and between the legs of Shea for the 3-0 lead. Bismarck added one more power-play tally in the period to pull out in front 4-0 by the end of the second period.
Out of the intermission in the second, the Bruins opted to make a change at goalie, going with Hudson Hodges for the third. Despite the Bruins best efforts, Bismarck got their penultimate goal of the night, their fifth, a little more than two minutes into the frame. Battling for their pride, and to have some positive momentum going into Saturday night’s rematch, the Bruins didn’t go down without a fight. Late in the third period, Carson Riddle and Jens Richards broke in on a two-on-one. Riddle, the crafty veteran, saucered a pass over to Richards who didn’t field the pass so much as just tweak the direction of the puck. His efforts were rewarded as he ramped the puck over the shoulder of goalie Tommy Aitken, breaking the goose-egg and bringing the score to 5-1 with 3:37 remaining in the game. That score would last the final three-plus minutes, and the Bruins fell to the Bobcats in the first matchup of the season between the two-clubs.
Austin went 0-for-4 on the power-play throughout the night while their penalty-kill managed to go 4-for-6. Tyler Shea was handed the loss after playing in two periods and stopping 31 of 35 shots, while Hudson Hodges stopped 12 of 13 in relief. Tommy Aitken was the winning goaltender turning aside 19 of the 20 Bruins shots he faced. The 48 total shots that the Bruins allowed was a team high in 2020-21.
With the loss, Austin slipped to 3-5-2-0 on the season while the Bobcats jumped to 5-7-0-1. The Bobcats all put three points between them and the Bruins for third place in the NAHL Central Division standings before tomorrow night’s rematch. Faceoff for the encore between the two clubs is scheduled for 7:15 at the VFW Sports Center with the broadcast starting at 7:05 on HockeyTV and Power96.