The Norsemen took the ice on Friday against the Bismarck Bobcats and the game nearly got to the intermission scoreless until a Bismarck shot from the right point by Luke Roelofs took a deflection took a bounce off a St. Cloud defensemen and under the crossbar at the 17:09 mark. Adam Pietila would double their lead on a shorthanded rush and went forehand-backhand in tight to make it 2-0 at 4:32 of the second period.
The stage was set for a third period comeback and the Norsemen began the third on a mission when Duke Kiffin made a long pass up the right wing boards that found Blake Perbix who made a tough angle shot on the goaltender. Bobcat goaltender C.J. Kier kicked out the shot but that turned it into a pass off the pads and Kade Peterson buried the loose puck into a yawning net give make it a 2-1 contest 0:21 into the third. St. Cloud would draw level when Evan Pahos fired a backhanded effort that was stopped but collected the rebound with his back to the net and in one motion spun and fired a shot that trickled through Kier at 11:44 of the final frame. Unfortunately 21 seconds later Roelofs had a Bobcats’ offensive zone face off win bounce back to him at the right point and he quickly caught and flung it on target, kissing it off the left goalpost and in for the game-winner in a 3-2 victory, despite St. Cloud outshooting Bismarck 29-18.
Saturday the Norsemen fell behind early in the game when Drew Holt scored on a 2-on-1 just 1:42 into the game but they responded quickly when Hunter Hanson took a puck into the right wing side and centered it; it kicked off a Bismarck player but Daniels Murnieks found a streaking Charlie Wind who quickly popped it in short side in his first NAHL game. The Bobcats would respond with two more goals in the frame from Vertti Jantunen and Erik Atchison and would skate to the tunnel with a 3-1 lead.
St. Cloud would get the loan goal of the third when Andrew Clarke came in on a power play and dropped the puck to Peterson who gave it back to Clarke down low and Clarke snapped a quick shot before Bobcat goalie Linards Lipskis could close the 5-hole in time 13:33 into the second period. It was the only goal of the frame and made it a 3-2 game going into the third.
Bismarck ballooned the lead with two goals 2:35 into the third and scored again at the 10:12 mark to make it 6-2. St. Cloud then took the gambling route and pulled their goalie which led to a 6-on-4 power play goal. Perbix made a pass at the left circle to the right where Peterson was waiting and his shot left a rebound Hanson poked over the outstretched right leg pad of Lipskis 11:50 into the third. The gamble worked once more as the Norsemen connected on a 6-on-5 extra attacker goal under a minute later at 12:47. An offensive zone draw won by St. Cloud resulted in a Kiffin shot that left a slippery rebound neither side could control and as they poked and prodded at it relentlessly it eventually squirted free to Murnieks who used the sea of bodies in the slot as a screen and roofed it top left corner to cut the lead to 6-4. Bismarck would get the last goal and the game however when Evan Hunter scored an empty net goal at 13:21. For the second night in a row the Norsemen outshot the Bobcats, this time 34-27, but it was a similar result with Bismarck winning 7-4.
Sunday would see a different venue but a similar story as the Norsemen traveled up the road to Minot but the Minotauros capitalized on a power play goal 4:05 into the game when a shot at the left face off dot from Hunter Longhi left a rebound that Trevor Stachowiak tried to slam home and his effot bounced to the side of the net where Cooper Rice pulled it back out front and tucked it in to make it a 1-0 game. The goal was on the first of three power play chances for Minot, the only three of the period, and it was the only period all weekend where St. Cloud was outshot, 19-11.
The second saw the Norsemen get their first two power play chances but couldn’t convert on either and the Minotauros’ three chances also came up empty with St. Cloud leading the shots on goal 12 to 8 but a 1-0 scored remained headed into the third. Early in the frame Longhi applied pressure that created a turnover in St. Cloud’s defensive end and a coughed up puck allowed Braden Fischer a partial breakaway that he beat Norsemen goalie Ethan Dahlmeir under the glove 3:00 into the third. From there St. Cloud dominated the period, with the 13 to 6 SOG edge, and it appeared Evan Pahos had made it a one-goal game with his second of the weekend when he took a D to D pass from Carter Bradley at St. Cloud’s blueline. From there he went two-thirds the length of the ice, danced around all five skaters, dangled and toe-dragged the puck splitting two Minotauros and popped it into the net before being pushed into netminder Lawton Zacher but the goal was immediately waved off. Even the Minot broadcast team was left unaware of why the goal didn’t count and the call hurt even more when St. Cloud converted on a power play with less than a minute remaining in the game as Perbix poked the puck into the left corner where Pahos made a pass to the top of the right circle and Peterson snapped it in on the short side with 38.9 seconds left in regulation for his team-leading seventh tally of the campaign. Unfortunately that’s as close as St. Cloud could make it and moments later with their goalie pulled Chase LaPinta would score an empty netter at 19:44 to seal a 3-1 victory for Minot. For the third night in a row St. Cloud lead their opponent in shots on goal, this time by a 36-33 margin, but it again resulted in no points for the Norsemen.
St. Cloud has a week off to rest and they’re back in action when they travel to Mason City to take on the North Iowa Bulls on Saturday, October 22nd at 7:10. That game can be seen online at hockeytv.com.
The Norsemen’s next home game is the following Saturday on October 29th vs. the Minnesota Wilderness. Tickets can be purchased online at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.