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Night for netminders: Bismarck, Kalamazoo win on Wednesday

February 9, 2012

Alex Okicki made 38 saves as Kalamazoo picked up a 4-1 road win in Traverse City on Wednesday.

Bismarck 2 @ Alexandria 0 - The Bismarck Bobcats got back to their winning ways and created a little separation in the Central Division standings, blanking the second-place Alexandria Blizzard 2-0 Wednesday at the Runestone Center.  Tommy Burke recorded his first career shutout behind 24 saves in net as the Cats (36-7-1, 73 pts) extended their divisional lead to 16 points over the Blizzard (27-13-3, 57 pts).  It was a defensive struggle as neither team could break through over the first 30-plus minutes of the game, with Burke and Blizzard goalie Jacob Meyers each stopping the first 15 shots they faced.  Bobcats rookie Ryan Callahan broke the scoreless tie with 5:51 left in the second period on a bit of good fortune when a Shane Omdahl centering pass on the rush was blocked by an Alexandria defender straight to Callahan, who volleyed a quick shot through Meyers’ legs to push the Cats ahead 1-0.  Meyers settled down after Callahan’s go-ahead marker, stopping the next 10 shots he faced before being pulled in the final minute of the game as the Blizzard attempted to find the equalizer.  When the Blizzard took a long offside call with five seconds left, Tyler Richter stepped in to take the faceoff at the Alexandria blue line and—with Meyers still on the Alexandria bench in favor of the extra attacker—perfectly placed the puck into the empty net for the final count of 2-0 with two seconds to go in the game.  Wednesday’s victory pushed Burke’s win total to 24, second best in the NAHL and secured him an elusive shutout. Burke has had numerous close calls, including losing a shutout with less than one second remaining in a 3-1 win over Aberdeen on September 23. Boxscore

Kalamazoo 4 @ Traverse City 1 - The Traverse City North Stars were busy in the offensive zone on Wednesday evening at Centre ICE Arena, but could convert just once in 39 chances in a 4-1 loss to Kalamazoo.  The Stars (19-15-5) enjoyed decided edges in possession and shots on goal through the first two periods – including a 17-6 run in the second – but it was the Jr. K-Wings that made the most of their opportunities. The visitors scored the first goal of the game with 6:41 to go in the middle stanza, as Daniel Cesarz lit the lamp.  Kalamazoo built a 3-0 lead midway through the 3rd period with goals from Brett Beauvais and Andrew Graves before the North Stars finally solved Wings goaltender Alex Okicki with 4:38 to play as Sean Murphy bagged his 12th goal of the season giving the hosts a glimmer of hope, but even with an extra attacker on the ice for a spell, the Stars couldn’t best Okicki down the stretch.  Kalamazoo added an empty-netter from Kyle Gattelaro in the waning minutes to push it to a three-goal final tally.  Okicki was outstanding, making 38 saves for his 12th win of the season, while Kyle Laslo made 24 saves in the Stars’ net.  The North Stars remain lodged in third place in the NAHL North Division, 13 points behind second-place Kalamazoo in the chase for the second and final home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Boxscore

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