Bobcats Blank Blizzard, Sweep Division Semifinals
BROOKINGS, SD – The Bismarck Bobcats struck in the first two minutes and never looked back, pulling away late for a 6-0 victory over the Brookings Blizzard Friday to secure a three-game sweep of the best-of-five game Central Division Semifinals.
Awarded a 5-on-3 power play in the second minute of the game, the Bobcats seized a quick 1-0 lead when Matt Pohlkamp sizzled a low shot past the blocker of Brookings goalie Drew Weigman for his first goal of the playoffs a mere 1:59 into the contest.
“When you get a 5-on-3, especially in the playoffs, you need to be able to convert it,” explained Pohlkamp, who is committed to Bowling Green State University for 2013-14. “We were able to use the extra space well: when Nate [Repensky] gave me the pass at the blue line, there was a lot of time and space to get a good shot to the net.”
Brookings nearly equalized ten minutes later, as Drew Brevig, Aidan Cavallini and Thomas Williams sent a flurry of shots in on Bobcat netminder Aaron Nelson in a short time frame, but all were rebuffed by second-and-third-chance saves by the second-year veteran out of Century High School to keep the score 1-0 after one.
That 1-0 lead would last until 5:00 to go in the second when veteran forward Shane Omdahl made a point-blank redirect of a Levi Blom shot, deflecting the puck through Weigman’s legs and in one second after a power play expired to double the advantage to 2-0.
Stanislav Dzakhov tacked on some big-time insurance for the Bobcats with 1:17 remaining in the middle frame when the Russian forward batted a Chris Diver shot out of mid-air and into the net while on the power play for a 3-0 cushion after two.
A two-goals-in-20-seconds surge in the third by the Cats put the game out of reach at 5-0; first Cory Chapman struck in transition and then Bob Kinne had a centering pass deflected in by a Blizzard defender with 16:39 left in regulation.
“Our guys knew that Brookings was going to be desperate in the third, and anything can happen in an elimination game,” noted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose road playoff record behind the bench improved to 9-2 in three postseasons. “But we just kept coming and didn’t let them back in it.”
Chapman put a cap on the Bobcats’ scoring on the night with 2:07 remaining in the game, cashing in a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush for the final count of 6-0.
Nelson, who picked up his third win of the 2013 postseason, turned in 17 saves before being lifted at the 12:09 mark of the third in favor of rookie Bryan Nies, who made 8 stops. Weigman took the loss in net, falling to 0-3 in his first playoff run despite denying 22 shots.
With the three-game sweep, the Bobcats advance to their fifth consecutive Central Division Finals. They await the winner of the Austin-Minot series; the Bruins hold a 2-1 advantage on the other side of the Central bracket after a 3-2 overtime win at Maysa Arena Friday.
Dates and times for the Central Division Finals will be announced early next week; the Bobcats will open the second round at Riverside Arena if Austin wins the other Central Semifinal. Should Minot win the series, the Cats would start the Division Finals at home.
All Bobcat postseason games 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 will get under way a half hour before each contest.