The Bismarck Bobcats and the Minot Minotauros gave a sold-out crowd of over 1,200 fans quite a show Tuesday at the Dickinson Recreation Center as the Tauros edged the Bobcats 5-4 in a shootout in an exhibition contest to help kick off the 2012-13 season for the Dickinson Hockey Club.
“With the turnout of fans and local support and publicity this game received, it is clear that Dickinson has a passion for the game of hockey and were excited to witness a great game featuring two of our marquee teams in the Bismarck Bobcats and Minot Minotauros,” said NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “With the recent success of NAHL teams within the Dakota’s, we feel very strongly that last night’s game further proves that Dickinson and the surrounding area could potentially fit within the footprint and scope of the North American Hockey League as we continue to review and evaluate future potential markets.”
“We couldn’t be happier to have been a part of DHC kick off night,” extolled Bobcats team owner Thom Brigl, “and the hockey fans here in Dickinson really showed up and packed the barn for a really exciting game here [Tuesday].”
Bob Kinne got the Bobcats started 3:49 into the game, taking a centering feed from below the goal line from Sam Coborn and popping it through the legs of Minot netminder Ryan Ruck for a fast 1-0 lead for the Capital City contingent.
Minot answered back 39 seconds later as a failed clear by the Bobcat defense turned into a deke into the middle by Tauros forward Cameron Rowat, who flicked a backhander five-hole past Bobcat goalie Bryan Nies to knot the game 1-1.
The two sides traded blows in the first six and a half minutes of the second as Cody Milligan pushed Tauros in front, only to be answered within a minute by Mike Dockry, who cashed in a defensive zone turnover to even the game at two with 13:45 to go in the middle frame.
Bobcat newcomer Tyler Klein, formerly of the Coulee Region Chill, edged the Bobcats ahead with 2:12 to go in the second, swiping home a give-and-go with defender Chris Diver seconds after a Bobcat power play to make it 3-2 for the Cats.
Lucas Oliver brought the side from the Magic City back to even 70 seconds into the third, popping in a Mason Morelli rebound to push the score to 3-3.
Klein notched his second of the night, roofing a loose puck over the glove of Ruck to push the Bobcats back in front at 4-3.
Morelli found a little magic for the Tauros late, though, lifting a backhander in transition over a Bobcat defender and past the glove of Nies to square the game at 4-4.
Neither side could solve the goalies in the remaining seven-plus minutes or in overtime, forcing a decisive shootout. Nies and Ruck stymied all shooters through the first three rounds; Minot struck in the final two rounds of the shootout while Klein and Kevin Becker split their two attempts, giving the Tauros the 5-4 decision in the Queen City.
Nies made 21 saves in defeat while Ruck stopped 20 shots for the win.