Blizzard Hockey: Bobcats end Blizzard's runEven in a loss, Alexandria has proven how far it's come.
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
Something had to give at the Runestone Community Center on Sunday night when the team with the best record matched up against the team playing the best hockey in the Central Division.
Bismarck came to town fresh off two straight wins on Friday and Saturday night and holding a 33-6-1 record. Alexandria was trying to inch closer to the Bobcats and extend its franchise-record winning streak to 12 games.
Fans got exactly what they expected when the two teams hit the ice. Bismarck never trailed in an eventual 4-3 win but never led by more than a goal. Alexandria’s Reid Sturos and Nick D’Avolio scored in the first to make it 2-2 before Vadim Gyesbreghs added one in the second to even things up at three. In the end, it was Donald Olivieri’s goal at 11:23 in the second that proved to be the difference for the Bobcats.
“I thought it was a good hockey game,” Alexandria head coach Doc DelCastillo said. “Bismarck, three games in three nights, and they found a way to win a good hockey game. My hat goes off to them. They’re legitimately a very good team. That’s why they’ve only lost six games.”
Alexandria is proving to be on that same level. The Blizzard and Bobcats met for the first time on September 24 on a night when Bismarck dominated on its way to a 9-3 win. Since then, these two teams have played three games decided by four goals.
“We’re as good if not better on certain nights,” D’Avolio said. “Doc’s been known to have second half teams. He works us so hard, day in and day out, you can see it’s paying off.”
Evidence of that can be seen in how this team is able to close games. The Blizzard controlled the third period on Sunday night, outshooting the Bobcats 14-7. Alexandria had an opportunity in the final minute when Bismarck’s Tyler Richter took a high sticking penalty. The Blizzard got shots on goal but couldn’t find the back of the net with the man advantage.
“We played good,” Sturos said. “We just couldn’t get the bounces late. They got a couple goals, and we got a couple goals. It went on and off like that. It came down to a minute left, and we couldn’t get a bounce to get it in.”
It was the first time Alexandria has lost a game since December 16 against Coulee Region. The Blizzard’s 11-game winning streak was capped off with an 8-2 win in Minot on Friday night.
DelCastillo has talked all season about the depth of this team and never has it been on display like it was that night. Alexandria blew open the game in the second period when seven different players scored. Fifteen different guys had at least a point against the Minotauros.
“It’s a credit to the depth and the development of guys as far as them coming to work hard every day,” DelCastillo said. “We have a lot of guys who are getting better. You look at something like that, that’s a lot of scoring and a lot of different guys picking up points.”
The Blizzard created some distance between itself and the rest of the teams behind it during its recent run. Alexandria was alone in second place with 54 points after the weekend, seven up on Aberdeen.
Setting the franchise record for consecutive wins meant a lot to this team. D’Avolio played for the Chicago Steel out of the United States Hockey League last season, a team that failed to reach double digits in wins.
“Last year, I was on a pretty bad team,” he said. “We only had nine wins out of 60 games, so it’s pretty nice. We have more wins in a row than I had in the whole season.”
The Blizzard will try to start a new streak tonight, Wednesday, when this team goes on the road to Bismarck. It is a match-up that has become the most anticipated game on the schedule for Alexandria. These players believe they have the talent to beat the Bobcats any given night. They’ll have eight more chances to prove that over the last two months of the regular season.
“We’ve grown a lot,” Sturos said. “We added a few players, so the team’s gotten better. In practice every week, we get better. We’ll see at the end of the season, when it matters, who’s the better team.”
BISMARCK 2 2 0 – 4
ALEXANDRIA 2 1 0 – 3
SHOTS – Bismarck – 8, 13, 7 – 28; Alexandria – 9, 13, 14 – 36
SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Bismarck – Daniel Zawacki (Grant Mindt, Shane Omdahl), 8:18; Alexandria – Reid Sturos (Nick D’Avolio, Aidan Cavallini), 12:16; Bismarck – Adam Knochenmus (PPG) (Bryce Anderson), 16:55; Alexandria – Nick D’Avolio (PPG) ( Michael Mooney, Nick DeCenzo), 19:20
SECOND PERIOD – Bismarck – Donald Olivieri, unassisted, 8:36; Alexandria – Vadim Gyesbreghs (Seth Ronsberg, Tucker Coborn), 9:48; Bismarck – Donald Olivieri (Bryce Schmitt, Nicholas Miglio), 11:23
THIRD PERIOD – No scoring
GOALTENDING – Alexandria – Jacob Meyers – L, 13 saves, 17 shots; Jameson Shortreed – 11 saves, 11 shots; Bismarck – Aaron Nelson – W, 33 saves, 36 shots
ALEXANDRIA 0 7 1 – 8
MINOT 1 0 1 – 2
SHOTS – Alexandria – 8, 21, 10 – 39; Minot – 15, 7, 8
SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Minot – Jadin Martin (PPG) (Tucker Coborn, Seth Ronsberg), 13:35
SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Thomas Williams (PPG) (Coborn, Ronsberg), 3:35; Alexandria – Justin Moody (Purpur, Trupp), 4:19; Alexandria – Gage Torrel (DeCenzo, Lindegard), 7:29; Alexandria – Tucker Coborn (Brandon Parker, Derek Sand), 11:41; Alexandria – Reid Sturos (Parker, Sand), 17:45; Alexandria – Aidan Cavallini (D’Avolio, Sturos), 18:14; Alexandria – Nick DeCenzo (Lindegard, Torrel), 19:10
THIRD PERIOD – Minot – Martin (Austin Hoff), 7:51; Alexandria – Vadim Gyesbreghs (Cavallini, Sturos), 13:21
GOALTENDING – Alexandria – Jacob Meyers – W, 28 saves, 30 shots; Minot – Jake Hebda – L, 19 saves, 24 shots; Tim Shaughnessy – 12 saves, 15 shots