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Junior hockey: Bruins wiped out by Bismarck in finals opener

BISMARCK, N.D. — The regular season division champions needed one shift to exert their will in the first game of the postseason division finals.

BISMARCK, N.D. — The regular season division champions needed one shift to exert their will in the first game of the postseason division finals.

The Bismarck Bobcats scored 44 seconds into Friday's Game 1 of the North American Hockey League Central Division Finals and never were in jeopardy in a 5-0 victory against the Austin Bruins at the Bismarck VFW Sports Center.

Game 2 of the best-of-5 series is set for 7:15 p.m. tonight in Bismarck.

The Bruins will need a far better effort if they hope to make the 10-plus hour bus ride home with a tied series. If not, their season will be on the line when the series shifts to Riverside Arena in Austin for Game 3 — and possibly Game 4 — next weekend.

Solag Bakich scored for Bismarck on the game's first shift Friday and the Bobcats' Willie Brown had three assists to lead the way against Austin, the No. 3 seed in the division. The Bruins knocked off No. 2 seed Minot, 3-1, in the first round, while Bismarck topped fourth-seeded Brookings by the same total.

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Alex Strand and Parker Mismash added first-period goals for the Bobcats to give them a 3-0 lead after one period.

That was more than enough for Bobcats goalie Hunter Shepard, a University of Minnesota-Duluth recruit. He stopped 25 shots to earn his fourth postseason victory.

Aaron Herdt scored just 1:12 into the second period for a 4-0 lead and Strand's second of the night made it 5-0 early in the third.

Austin's Jacob Paganelli snapped Bismarck's shutout bid at 7:21 of the third with an unassisted goal, his third of the postseason. Bruins goalie Kris Carlson made 16 saves.

Bobcats 5, Bruins 1

Austin#0#0#1#—#1

Bismarck#3#1#1#—#5

First period— 1. B, Solag Bakich (Willie Brown) :44. 2. B, Alex Strand (Patrik Demel, Brown) 13:27 (pp). 3. B, Parker Mismash (Frankie Melton) 17:19. Second period— 4. B, Aaron Herdt (Bakich, Brown) 1:12. Third period— 5. B, Strand (Garrett Nelson, Tobias Fladeby) 5:31. 6. A, Jacob Paganelli (unassisted) 7:21.

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Shots on goal— A 7-8-11—26; B 13-4-4—21. Goalies— A, Kris Carlson (L, 3-2-0; 21 shots-16 saves); B, Hunter Shepard (W, 4-1-0; 26 shots-25 saves). Power plays— A, 0-for-2; B, 1-for-2. Penalties— A, 2-4 minutes; B, 2-4 minutes.

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