Bobcats throttle Thunder

Published 8:41 am Monday, December 8, 2008

A night after picking up its second win of the season the Albert Lea Thunder couldn’t muster the same effort in a 5-2 loss against Bismarck Sunday at the City Arena.

The Thunder got in at 3 a.m. Sunday after beating Alexandria 5-1 in Alexandria while the Bobcats had to travel from North Iowa for the game.

The difference in travel distance and the burden of playing two consecutive three game weekends seemed to affect Albert Lea.

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“I think six games in two weeks took a toll,” Thunder head coach Brad Zangs said. “That’s a lot of hockey without a day off. At the same token you think you have momentum from last night. I just didn’t see it.”

Albert Lea did use some of the momentum from Saturday night’s win to grab a 1-0 lead in the first period when Chris Cass found Jake Armijo in the slot for a goal 4 minutes, 2 seconds into the game. But the lead wouldn’t last for very long.

Bismarck (16-10-1) tied the game on a power play goal from Isaiah Bennis at the 9:32 mark in the first and Cody Keefer gave the Bobcats the lead at 14:07.

Bismarck added to its 2-1 lead in the second period with three goals while the Thunder had difficulty generating any scoring chances.

“The second period our defensive zone was a mess,” Albert Lea forward Mitch Torrel said. “We weren’t clicking like we were yesterday.”

The Thunder (2-20-3) didn’t hang on to the lead like it had the night before. Playing with a lead is something Zangs has tried to imprint upon the team, but it didn’t register Sunday against the Bobcats.

“Even when we played against Alexandria I preached that we have to play with a lead,” Zangs said. “I think our problem is when we do that, it seems like we play back on our heels. We need to go after them.”

Bismarck’s size continued to cause problems for Albert Lea and the team didn’t rush the net as it had in previous games.

“What Bismarck does better than anybody in this league, what I think, is they just corral the front of the net and don’t let you get any scoring chances,” Zangs said. “We need to learn, when we play these guys, that everything has to go out on top to get shots.”

The Thunder was outshot 33-21 in the game, but found few quality scoring opportunities. Albert Lea did add a shorthanded goal with four seconds to play when Nikita Feoktistov found Matt Sempeck on a 2-on-1 rush.

Thunder goalie Tom Lescovich gave up all five goals on 19 shots and was lifted in favor of Mat Rabin after the second period. Rabin stopped all seven shots he faced for Albert Lea.

Danny Wood, Josh Botimer, Tommy Robaczewski, and Ian Braun were scratches for the Thunder Sunday night. With Botimer out, Mark Ellis, normally a forward, moved to defense for Albert Lea.

Bismarck pulled in front of Alexandria in the Central Division with the win after dropping two games against North Iowa.

The Thunder face the a hot Outlaw team next weekend at home. North Iowa has won four of its last five games. Albert Lea has picked up four points in its last seven games.

“We’re turning the corner, we’re not there yet,” Zangs said.

Bismarck 5, Albert Lea 2

1st 2nd 3rd

Bismarck 2 3 0 — 5

Albert Lea 1 0 1 — 2


1st period: Albert Lea — Jake Armijo (Chris Cass) 4:02

Bismarck — Isaiah Bennis (power play) (Josh Nelson) 9:32

Bismarck — Cody Keefer (Jordan Singer) 14:07

2nd period: Bismarck — John Wickman (Jason Fabian) 6:24

Bismarck — Jeffrey Harris (power play) (unassisted) 10:07

Bismarck — Cody Keefer (Joel Lundstrom) 11:29

3rd period: Albert Lea — Matt Sempeck (shorthanded) (Nikita Feoktistov) 19:26

SHOTS ON GOAL: 1st 2nd 3rd

Bismarck 11 8 7 — 33

Albert Lea 8 9 4 — 21

POWER PLAY CONVERSION: Bismarck 2-for-5, Albert Lea 0-for-5