For the seventh game in a row the St. Cloud Norsemen’s opponent couldn’t outscore them but for the first time in that stretch the Norsemen couldn’t find a victory in regulation and overtime was required. Neither side could find the net in the extra five minutes and the Bismarck Bobcats eventually picked up a shootout victory to snap the Norsemen’s win streak at six.
The Norsemen took the lead late in the first period for the second night in a row, this time on a Rambow power play. Moments after Duke Kiffin had a great opportunity from in tight the Norsemen kept possession and Daniels Murnieks skated up the right side and made a behind the back drop pass to Kiffin above the right circle. Kiffin wasted no time sliding it over to Anthony Ruklic and Ruklic one-timed the pass high, short-side from the left faceoff dot which made Bismarck goaltender Hunter Garvey’s water bottle pop to give St. Cloud the 1-0 lead at the 16:58 mark, despite being outshot 8-5 for the frame.
St. Cloud Norsemen Assistant Coach Brock Kautz has been impressed with Ruklic in his short time with the Norsemen. “It’s just another jersey but he’s playing the same game he’s played for many years. His teammates moved the puck around and gave it to him in a good spot and it was a good one-timer, he put it right where it needed to be,” compliments Kautz. “I’m pleased with the three games we’ve had him for, you can see that he’s got a lot of potential, plays the game the right way and already seems comfortable with the guys in the locker room. I know he had a relationship with some of them and I think that made the transition a little easier. We’re excited to see how things progress for him.”
Ruklic won a U18 AAA Championship last year with the St. Louis Blues AAA program and he won that title alongside current Norsemen teammates Carter Bradley, Andrew Clarke and Charlie Wind. Ruklic, Clarke and Wind all played for the U16 AAA St. Louis Blues team two seasons ago with St. Cloud Norsemen Andrew Knapp. Ruklic hails from Edwardsville, IL, which is a half hour away from St. Louis where Bradley, Clarke, Knapp and Wind all hail from.
In the second period Saturday night the Norsemen took it to Bismarck in the shots on goal department 18-7 but it was the Bobcats who found the only goal of the frame. In his fourth NAHL game, defenseman Noah Ziskie found the puck at his left faceoff dot and banked it off the glass out to neutral ice and Drew Holt. Holt raced up the left wing boards and beat Ethan Dahlmeir far post over his left leg pad to tie the game at 16:12 of the second.
It was the only goal Dahlmeir gave up on the two-game weekend as he made 35 saves over the two games. Kautz, a former goaltender himself, is not surprised Ethan’s having the success he is having on Friday and Saturday nights due to his effort starting each week Monday morning. “I think a lot of it comes from the stuff that nobody sees, the behind the scenes stuff, the work that he’s put in over the course of the year,” Kautz points out. “It’s not a fluke when your daily habits are good and you’re working hard at practice and I think he’s doing all those things away from the rink that are allowing him to play at a high level when he steps onto the rink.”
The Norsemen had a number of quality chances late in regulation and a good look or two in overtime but couldn’t find the back of the net. Evan Hunter converted for the Bobcats when he scored five-hole and Kade Peterson nearly got a puck to roll up Garvey’s left arm and in but the puck just rolled wide giving the Bobcats the lead after the first round. Adam Pietila fired and scored between Dahlmeir’s left pad and glove and Garvey ended the contest when he knocked down Blake Perbix’s shot with his glove to come away with the 2-1 shootout victory. St. Cloud outshot Bismarck 33-24 for the contest and their power play went 1-for-3 while the Bobcats were 0-for-5 on the man advantage.
“We wanted both points so to only get one obviously leaves a bad taste in our mouth but give credit to them, they stuck around and were able to tie it up and they made a couple good moves in the shootout for them to get two points,” admits Kautz. “We know it’s going to be tough, it’s a tough environment to play in in Bismarck and I think we’re gonna be motivated after not closing out the game tonight. We’re looking forward to progressing throughout the rest of the season and we’ll see what happens.”
The Norsemen head to the road next weekend to take on the Bobcats in Bismarck Friday and Saturday with the puck dropping both nights at 7:15 pm. The games can be viewed online at hockeytv.com.
St. Cloud is next back in action at home on Friday and Saturday, February 17th and 18th vs. the Minot Minotauros. Friday the 17th is Charlie Boike Night with 50% of ticket sales being donated to a scholarship in Charlie’s name and the first 100 fans for that game will receive a free winter Norsemen beanie cap from Franklin Graphics and Outdoor Advertising. You can get tickets for all Norsemen games at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com/.