BISMARCK, ND – The Bruins built a 4-0 lead and held off a furious Bismarck third period comeback effort for a 5-3 win on Friday night at VFW Sports Center. The loss eliminated the Bobcats from playoff contention and was the sixth game in a row for the Bruins in which they’ve gained at least one point.
Quinn Martin scored for his third weekend in a row, cashing in an Evan Cholak feed at 7:42 of the opening period. Cholak grabbed a blocked shot let go from Kyle Looft and spotted Martin at the opposite circle. Looft extended his point streak to four with a secondary assist. In the final minute of the period, Justin Misiak would make it 2-0, skating up the right wing and slipping a shot from just above the goal line through Bobcat goaltender Severi Isokangas. The Bruins took the two goal advantage into the locker room.
Midway through the second, Dante Zapata scored for his second game in a row, scooping up a rebound produced by a Joe Kinsella shot. It was Kinsella’s third straight game with an assist as he finishes his Junior career. Jake Kucharski kept the team shutout streak going through five periods and it was 3-0 heading to the third.
At 9:40 of the third, the Bruins converted on a power play chance as the Bobcats failed to break out of the zone and Travis Kothenbeutel stole a puck, found Misiak below the goal line, and Misiak set up Jack Murphy at the top of the crease to make it 4-0. The Bobcats began their comeback attempt 90 seconds later when Nick Alexander scored on a wraparound. Layne Sedevie then pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker and Bismarck scored twice at 17:38 and 19:00, with goals from Tobias Fladeby and Jordan Fralich to make it a one goal game. With 12 seconds to go, Travis Kothenbeutel launched a shot from the Bruins side of the neutral zone that rolled into the empty net before Misiak got there for the final tally of the game.
Kucharski made 36 saves to earn his 13th win – the first Bruins win in Bismarck since November 14th, 2015. Bismarck’s loss clinched the fourth and final Central Division playoff position for Brookings, who will be joined by Minot, the Minnesota Wilderness, and Aberdeen.
The Bruins and Bobcats finish the season on Saturday night at 7:15. Broadcast coverage begins at 7:05 on AM 1480 KAUS and HockeyTV (AWAY).