The St. Cloud Norsemen struggled to get pucks to the net in the first two periods Friday but were efficient in the shots they did take and they opened up offensively in the third to come away with a 5-3 victory at home over the Bismarck Bobcats.
The first frame felt like a feeling out period with each team getting just five shots on goal and the game went to the second period scoreless. The visiting Bobcats got on the board first when Julian Beaumont put home a rebound 4:56 into the period, but that lead would evaporate just 22 seconds later. The Norsemen’s Kade Peterson had a shot from the left circle blocked but he collected the rebound, skated it to the goal line, then feathered a pass across the goal crease to Ryan Cutler who was in tight and roofed one into the net’s ceiling to make it a 1-1 game. Daniels Murnieks would give St. Cloud their first lead of the night at the 12:24 mark of the second when he kicked a puck out from the side of the cage into the slot. A stalemate of an attempted shot and clearance left the puck sitting out front and Murnieks hustled to it and took a quick, unsuspecting backhanded shot that beat Linards Lipskis five-hole to make it a 2-1 game. Bismarck would respond late in the period on the power play when Chase Beacom took a slap pass that Drew Holt caught then backhanded up over the glove of Will Ingemann to deadlock the squads at two headed into the third. While the Norsemen only had four shots in the period, they were effective while scoring on two of those four shots.
It took just 13 seconds into the final period to break the tie as Broten Sabo scored in the dying seconds of a Nick Baer holding penalty when he snapped a wrist shot up over the blocker of Lipskis to give St. Cloud the lead 3-2. They’d double the lead twelve and a half minutes later when Chase Cheslock chipped a puck up to Peterson who caught it and created separation for a breakaway which he snapped into the top left corner, doubling St. Cloud’s lead 4-2. While Carter Krenke would strike for Bismarck and cut the lead to just one, with less than a minute to play Blake Perbix blocked a shot that kicked out to neutral ice and Hunter Hanson raced onto it and flung it into the empty net to make the final a 5-3 score. The Norsemen only registered 9 shots on goal in the first two periods but peppered the Bobcats’ net for 13 in the third, a big part of the reason they were able to score three in the final frame.
Norsemen goalie Will Ingemann finished with 21 saves on 24 shots on goal and picked up the victory. St. Cloud Norsemen Assistant Coach Brock Kautz feels that while the raw numbers may not have been Ingemann’s best, he battled and grinded out the win. “He made some timely saves that really made a difference. Regardless of the score he made some huge, critical saves; game-breaking saves,” compliments Kautz. “He’d be the first to admit he didn’t play his greatest game but even if that’s the case he found a way to win. That says a lot about a goaltender.”
Peterson, who was one of the Three Stars of the Game with the game-winning goal and an assist, sings Ingemann’s praise as well. “Every game, even every practice, he’s always battling. We can count on him to battle, he probably stole a game tonight,” Peterson admits. “It’s always nice having him between the pipes.”
This is the first of four straight games for St. Cloud vs. Bismarck and the Norsemen were aware that Friday’s game was huge for setting the tone against an opponent they’ll see a lot of in a short amount of time. “Any time you can win, especially at home, when you play a team a few times in a row it’s very important to get off to a good start,” points out Kautz. “It’s never easy; we got a tight division, all the teams are good, so any time you can get two points it makes a big difference.”
Ryan Cutler, who like Peterson and Sabo had a goal and an assist and was named one of the Three Stars of the Game, agrees that the victory could have lasting repercussions over the next three games. “We came out strong, we were physical, and I think it definitely set a tone for the games coming up,” Cutler assesses. “It was a great game by the team.”
The Norsemen are back at it Saturday night as they try to sweep the Bobcats on the weekend. In honor of hunting season it’s officially Bobcat Hunting Season and if you wear hunting clothing (please remember, no firearms are allowed at the MAC or on its property) you’ll receive a free beer at Saturday’s game. Tickets are available online at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.