WENATCHEE, WA – The Bismarck Bobcats, already clinched into Sunday’s Robertson Cup Championship, slipped up in their final game of the tournament’s round robin, losing to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4-3 Saturday at the Town Toyota Center.
The win for Fairbanks secures the Ice Dogs’ (3-1) path into the title game, where they will face the Bobcats (2-2).
Fairbanks opened the teams’ round robin finale hot, tallying the first goal just 1:09 into the game as Ice Dogs forward Mark Pustin tapped home a back door feed from All-NAHL forward Michael Juola for a fast 1-0 lead.
The Bobcats, however answered quickly as Aaron Quick tucked a backhand past Fairbanks goalie Joe Phillippi to even the score at one just 3:19 into the game.
Quick’s linemate Trent Johnson gave the Bobcats the lead 3:24 later, catching a long entry pass from Dan Weissenhofer and dekeing out Phillippi for a 2-1 edge for the Central Champs.
Bobcat forward Tim Serratore pushed the lead out to 3-1 early in the second, finding space behind the Fairbanks defense to rocket a wrist shot over Phillippi with just 62 seconds elapsed in the middle frame.
Following Serratore’s score, Fairbanks’ power play took over as Zach Tolkinen powered an extra-man slap shot through traffic and past a screened-out Jake Williams to cut the Bobcats’ lead to 3-2 with 16:23 left in the second.
The Ice Dogs’ power play netted its second tally of the period with 7:09 remaining in the second as Politz worked a low shot through a tangle of bodies to beat Williams and tie the score at three a side heading into the second intermission.
The difference in the third came 6:55 into the frame when Fairbanks forward stole the puck from the Bobcat power play and streaked down the ice on a breakaway, outracing the backcheck of Johnson and beating Williams five-hole for the shorthanded goal and the 4-3 lead.
The Bobcats attempts to rally were stalled by the shotblocking efforts and neutral zone play of the Ice Dogs and Fairbanks held on for the 4-3 win, finalizing Sunday’s matchup.
Williams turned back 30 Ice Dog shots but suffered his second loss of the 2010 playoffs and only his third defeat in a Bobcat uniform.
Phillippi also made 30 saves, securing his third win at nationals to propel the Ice Dogs into the finals.
Sunday’s Robertson Cup Championship begins at 7:05 PM Central Time between the Bobcats and Ice Dogs at Town Toyota Center.
Bobcat fans in Bismarck are encouraged to attend Sunday’s 7:00 PM viewing party at Reza’s Pitch on the corner of 3rd St. and Front St. to watch the game live on the big screens and cheer on the ‘Cats in their quest for their first ever Robertson Cup!
Sunday’s title game 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 gets underway at 6:35 PM.