Four-Goal Explosion Nets Bobcats Road Win, Home Ice
AUSTIN, MN – Trailing by three late in the third period, the Bismarck Bobcats rang up four straight goals to rally past the Austin Bruins 4-3 in overtime Saturday at Riverside Arena, sweeping the Bruins and securing home ice advantage in the first round of the 2013 Robertson Cup Playoffs.
Staring down a 3-0 deficit with six and a half minutes left in regulation, the Bobcats broke up the shutout bid for Bruins netminder Jason Pawloski as Mike Dockry converted a 2-on-2 rush with Bob Kinne by placing a bad-angle shot into a tiny opening between Pawloski and the short post to make it 3-1 at the 6:05 mark of the third.
Things got testy between the top two clubs in the Central Division with 2:48 to go when Austin forward Brandon Wahlin ran down Bobcat blueliner Levi Blom from behind, earning the Bruins’ top scorer 17 penalty minutes including a five minute major penalty while Blom picked up a double minor for roughing that was chopped in half by an extra roughing call on Wahlin.
With a 4-on-4 coming as a result of the penalties, Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie pulled goalie Aaron Nelson to give his team a 5-on-4 man power advantage with the extra attacker.
57 seconds into the 5-on-4, forward Matt Pohlkamp picked up his third goal of the weekend on a blistering slap shot through traffic that deflected off Pawloski and in, cutting Austin’s lead to 3-2 with 1:51 left.
Pohlkamp was not done, though: off a face-off at center—called for an offside line change at the end of Blom’s minor—the Bowling Green recruit split the Austin defense and ripped the equalizer through Pawloski’s legs with 31 seconds to go, forcing overtime.
“We never thought we were out of the game; we had some great chances early but got some bad bounces and couldn’t get them on net,” assessed Pohlkamp, who finished the weekend with four goals at Riverside, including two on the power play. “When we got the [major] power play, we knew we had a chance. The most important thing was getting the shots through to the net.”
The point earned by forcing overtime was enough to lock down a second place finish in the Central Division for the Bobcats, who entered the game with a magic number of just one to wrap up home ice advantage over Brookings.
As Wahlin’s penalty was a major, Pohlkamp’s tying tally did not release the infraction and the Cats were able to carry 2:12 of power play time into OT.
Joe Giordano made sure the Bobcats would only need 1:58 of that time as the fifth-year veteran collected the rebound off a Stanislav Dzakhov rush to the net and buried a top-shelf finish to earn the visitors a stunning 4-3 victory and a road sweep in southern Minnesota.
It was Austin, though, who set the tone on the scoreboard as Drew Anderson got the home side on the board with 2:11 to go in the first, wristing a hip-high shot home through a Chris Fischer screen one second after a Shane Omdahl interference minor expired to boost Austin to a 1-0 lead after one.
Anderson netted his second straight goal for the Bruins with 7:03 to go in the second, blasting a 2-on-1 centering pass from Jay Dickman over Nelson to push Austin’s edge to 2-0.
Dickman then struck what appeared to be a crippling blow to the Cats’ chances with just two seconds left in the middle frame, tapping home a John Simonson rebound on the power play to stretch it to a 3-0 game.
“It wasn’t looking too good for us after 40 minutes, that’s for sure,” offered Sedevie, whose squad ended up splitting the 10-game season series with the Bruins as each team finished 5-3-2 against the other. “But our guys kept working and battled to turn around our puck-luck in the third and never gave up. That was a full-team effort to battle back like that on the road.”
Nelson turned away 27 of 30 Austin shots for his 23rd win of 2012-13, though the Bismarck native only needed eight stops after the second period, as the Cats outshot the Bruins 24-8 over the final 21:58 of play. Pawloski suffered just his fourth loss of a sterling rookie campaign despite 41 saves.
Saturday’s triumph was the second time in March that the Bobcats authored a road win after trailing 3-0, joining their 6-3 victory at Brookings on March 2. It was the third time they forced overtime against Austin while trailing by two or more after two periods and the second time they won such a game, joining their 4-3 home win on October 19.
Combined with Minot’s 5-2 home win over Brookings, the Cats’ sweep finalized the Central Division playoff picture: the second-place Bobcats will host third-place Brookings while top-seeded Austin will welcome number four Minot. The Tauros’ victory closed the door on Aberdeen’s furious charge toward fourth place, though the Wings still grabbed their eighth straight win Saturday, 4-1 over Coulee Region.
A full first-round schedule for Bobcats-Blizzard will be released later this week at BismarckBobcats.com.
The Bobcats will now return home Friday to open a two-game, season-closing, home-and-home series with the rival Minotauros at the VFW Sports Center with a 7:15 puck drop before wrapping up the 2012-13 campaign at Maysa Arena Saturday at 7:35 PM.
Tickets for Friday’s game are on sale right now by calling the box office at 222-3300 or buying and printing tickets online at www.BismarckBobcats.com.
Friday’s home finale will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide on the official internet television partner of the NAHL, FASTHockey, at http://nahl.fasthockey.com. Pregame coverage gets under way at 6:45 PM.
Bobcat fans can get 2013 Playoff Priority if they reserve 2013-14 season tickets today! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 to reserve your seats for another year Championship Entertainment and get first crack at seats in the 2013 Robertson Cup Playoffs.