BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats came out firing to open the Central Division Finals, riding a scorching-hot power play to a 9-1 laugher over the visiting Alexandria Blizzard in Game One of the second round of the 2010 Robertson Cup Playoffs.
Jason Fabian got the Bobcats rolling early in the first, running free for a breakaway off a long outlet pass from Gavin Hartzog and firing a rising shot over the glove of Blizzard netminder Robert Tadazak for a 1-0 lead 7:31 into the game.
“The first goal has always been the most important one for us all year, and [Friday] everything snowballed after that first one went in,” said Fabian, who is second on the Bobcats in postseason points with three goals and five assists. “Alexandria is a strong, physical team and we had to match their intensity from the start, which we were able to do.”
Leading playoff scorer Dominic Panetta followed 2:23 later, ripping a high power play snap shot over Tadazak off a centering feed from Sam Rendle to boost the lead to 2-0.
Panetta helped linemate Ryan Jacobson make it a 3-0 game eight and a half minutes later, finding Jacobson in front of the Blizzard net for a backhander that found the back of the net off the crossbar with 1:33 left in the opening frame.
The Bobcats weren’t done in the first period, however, as Panetta tallied his second of the night with 13 seconds left in the frame, rattling a one-time shot off replacement netminder Chris Kamal and in for a 4-0 Bismarck edge heading into the first intermission.
“All year, I don’t think our team was recognized as one of those elite power play units,” said Panetta, who leads all playoff scorers now with five goals and eight assists in four games, “so we’ve wanted to go out and show what our ‘PP’ can do here in the playoffs.”
It was the Blizzard power play, though, that answered the bell in the second frame as Alexandria forward Steve Zierke rifled a low power play snap shot past Bobcats goalie Jake Williams just 1:51 into the second to cut the lead to 4-1. Zierke’s tally marked the first goal the ‘Cats have given up on the penalty kill this postseason.
Casey Kleisinger responded with a power play goal of his own late in the second, ripping a slap shot over Tadazak—who played the second period before being lifted again for Kamal in the third—to restore the four-goal lead at 5-1 with 4:29 left in the middle stanza.
In the third, Alexandria piled up ten penalties that resulted in five Bobcat power plays, including four 5-on-3 man advantages.
The ‘Cats made the most of their 5-on-3 chances, as they converted three of the four two-man-advantage opportunities with scores from Brett Bower, Matt Shost and Aaron Quick.
Sean McKenzie capped off the Bobcats’ scoring explosion with yet another power play goal, powering a Hartzog rebound past Kamal with 42 seconds left for the final 9-1 margin.
On the night, the Bobcats finished with a 7-for-11 mark on the power play. The nine goals scored is a season-high for the ‘Cats.
“Nine goals in a playoff game is great,” said Fabian, “but that game is over now—[Saturday] the game will start 0-0. The score on Friday has no bearing on Saturday’s game so we need to come out and match Alexandria’s intensity again in Game Two.”
Williams made 22 saves to improve to 3-0 in net for the Bobcats during the 2010 playoffs.
Tadazak was eventually saddled with the loss, dropping him to 3-2 in the postseason. Kamal made 12 saves on 17 shots in relief.
The Bobcats and Blizzard will continue the Central Division Finals on Saturday with a 7:15 Game Two start at the VFW Sports Center.
Saturday’s contest will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. The pre-game show starts at 6:45 PM.
Playoff tickets for the 2010 Robertson Cup Playoffs are available now for the Central Division Finals! You can reserve your postseason seats by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300, online at http://tickets.bismarckbobcats.com or by e-mailing the office for more information at email@example.com.