BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats put themselves in the driver’s seat of the 2010 Central Division Semifinals Saturday, trouncing the Albert Lea Thunder 8-2 at the VFW Sports Center to seize a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five-games playoff series.
It was a four-goal second period that put Game Two out of reach for the home side.
Holding a tenuous 2-1 lead after one, the Bobcats came out blazing in the second as red-hot forward Tim Serratore tapped home a Dominic Panetta centering pass on a 2-on-1 transition rush to extend the lead to 3-1 just 4:47 into the middle frame.
Casey Kleisinger followed up with his first of the playoffs at the 8:36 mark of the second, stinging a bad angle shot off Thunder goalie Joe Rogers and into the net, pushing the advantage to 4-1 Bobcats.
Ryan Jacobson tallied his second goal of the night 1:40 later, popping a perfect 2-on-0 pass from Panetta into the cage for a 5-1 spread.
Aaron Quick capped the four-goal second with 5:47 left in the period, getting free behind the Albert Lea defense and beating Rogers to make it a 6-1 rout after two periods.
“We weren’t happy at all with how we played in the first period, despite the lead,” said Quick, an Air Force recruit for fall 2010. “We didn’t match their intensity out of the gate but when we did, things really took off for us.”
Quick followed his first playoff goal of 2010 with another in the third—this time on the short-hand—blocking an Albert Lea shot at the Bobcat blueline out to center for a long breakaway in on Rogers. The Monument, Colo., native chipped a rolling backhand off Rogers and in for a 7-1 Bobcat edge with 12:01 to go in the game.
Albert Lea ended the Bobcat scoring streak at six goals with 9:54 to go as Sheldon Taylor fired a high wrist shot over the blocker of Bismarck netminder Jake Williams to slice the lead to 7-2.
It would be the Bobcats, however, to get the last laugh as Tyler Klein one-timed a Kleisinger centering pass on the power play to boost the Bobcats to an 8-2 final margin.
The ‘Cats built their early lead halfway through the first when Jason Fabian took a drop pass from Nick Jensen and lined a low shot off Rogers and in 10:34 into the game.
It only took Albert Lea 32 seconds to respond as Thunder forward Brian Nehring forced a defensive zone turnover by the Bobcats and ripped a snapshot into the top corner of Williams’ net for a 1-1 tie.
Jacobson snapped the tie for good with 4:29 to go in the first, teeing up a Tom McCarthy pass mere feet away from Rogers’ net, sparking the Bobcats’ six-goal run.
“If you look at our line, with Tim Serratore, Dom Panetta and myself, we’ve been together on one line since November,” noted Jacobson, who is plus-four in two playoff games, “so we have tons of chemistry. Everyone is making good passes and taking good shots and things are going our way right now.”
The Serratore-Panetta-Jacobson line has already racked up five goals and seven assists through just two postseason contests.
Williams, in his second career playoff start, shut down 24 of 26 Albert Lea shots and picked up his second win in as many nights.
Rogers once again found himself on the short end at the VFW Sports Center, making 25 saves but falling to 0-2 in the postseason.
The Central Division Semifinals will resume with an elimination game at Albert Lea Arena on Friday night at 7:30 PM. Should the Bobcats win Game Three, they will await the winner of the Alexandria-Owatonna series—currently tied at 1-1 after the Blizzard’s 3-2 win Saturday.
Game Three will be broadcast locally Friday 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 7:00 PM.
Playoff tickets for the 2010 Robertson Cup Playoffs are available now for the Bobcats’ first-round series against the Thunder! You can reserve your postseason seats by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300 or by e-mailing the office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.