By Paul Teeple, Bismarck Bobcats
Brookings 1 @ Bismarck 5 - Trailing early in the second period, the Bismarck Bobcats popped off five straight goals en route to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Brookings Blizzard Wednesday at the VFW Sports Center. With the win, the Bobcats (28-15-6, 62 pts) pull three points ahead of the Blizzard (27-18-5, 59 pts) in the race for home ice advantage in the Central Division playoffs.
Following a scoreless first period, Drew Brevig put the visiting Blizzard ahead 1-0 just six seconds into the second period on a 5-on-3 power play, stuffing in a third-chance opportunity off a Justin Moody rebound after Bobcat goalie Aaron Nelson came up with saves on the first two shots.
Evan Giesler dialed up a response for the Bobcats 3:15 later, redirecting a Matt Anders shot through the legs of Brookings netminder Chase Wilson and in for his first career junior goal in his 24th career appearance.
With 12:27 to go in the middle frame, Stanislav Dzakhov grabbed a long clear-out pass from Giesler and raced in behind the Brookings defense before drawing Wilson into committing low early and then dekeing to the right and tapping the puck into a wide-open net to give the Cats their first lead at 2-1.
Defenseman Levi Blom doubled the lead to 3-1 less than three minutes later, launching a rolling shot through a Ryan Callahan screen and inside the left post at the 9:30 mark for the blueliner’s fourth tally of 2012-13.
Dzakhov connected on his second of the night and ninth of the year 78 seconds after Blom’s strike, taking an entry on the rush from linemate Filip Starzynski and rifling a low wrister under Wilson’s glove to extend the Cats’ advantage to 4-1. The goal ended the night for Wilson, who finished with 20 saves and eventually took the loss, his first; Drew Weigman took Wilson’s place in the Brookings net.
Dan Kovar put an exclamation point on the win for the Cats with a power play score, ripping a low liner that deflected off Brookings penalty killer Eric Brenk and in past Weigman with 4:25 left in the game for the final 5-1 count.
In net, Aaron Nelson piled up 33 saves to lock down his 20th win of 2012-13, marking the fifth straight season that a Bobcat goaltender has amassed 20 wins. Weigman made seven saves in relief of Wilson but did not factor into the decision.