Bobcats Close with Victory, Miss Finals
FRISCO, TX – The Bismarck Bobcats won their final game of the 2013 Robertson Cup Tournament’s round robin 4-3 over the Jamestown Ironmen Sunday at Dr. Pepper Arena, but could not stave off elimination, missing the championship game on tiebreakers.
Though the Cats finished 2-1 in the round robin, with the Wenatchee Wild—who the Bobcats defeated 3-2 Friday—claiming the goal differential tiebreaker with a 7-0 win Sunday over the Amarillo Bulls, the Cats fell short of the title game on a head-to-head tiebreaker with Amarillo, who defeated the Bobcats 2-1 in overtime Saturday night.
“It’s tough to take, being out even though we went 2-1,” admitted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, “but you have to credit our guys for coming out and playing well even though there were a lot of things going on outside their control.”
It didn’t take long for the Bobcats to jump out in front as Stanislav Dzakhov deked through the Jamestown defense and deposited a one-handed backhander through the legs of Ironmen goalie Joe Ballmer for a 1-0 lead 1:25 into the game that the Cats would enjoy through the first intermission.
Early in the second, Jamestown answered back on a 4-on-4 as Daniel Cesarz notched his second goal of the national tournament, snapping a centering feed from Nico Sierra over Bobcat netminder Aaron Nelson to even the score at one with just 67 seconds gone in the middle frame.
Second-year veteran Ryan Callahan pulled the Bobcats right back ahead, cashing in a 2-on-1 rush with Matt Anders to post the Cats to a 2-1 lead with 14:42 left in the second.
Chris Diver followed Callahan’s strike 4:07 later for a 3-1 advantage, threading a low shot through traffic and inside the far post past Ballmer.
After Diver’s marker, Sedevie lifted Nelson in favor of Bryan Nies and shortly thereafter Ironmen bench boss Dan Daikawa similarly replaced Ballmer with Blake Wojtala. Nelson finished with five saves, Ballmer with 13; neither starting goaltender factored into the decision.
“We’re all so proud of the season ‘Nelly’ had. He’s been a stud for us,” credited Sedevie, “but Nies has been a great, team-first guy for us all year and he deserved to get a chance to play at the Robertson Cup.”
With just six seconds left in the second, Cory Chapman extended the lead to 4-1, grabbing a loose puck after Anders took a heavy hit in front of Wojtala and whipped it in for a three-goal edge after two.
An early penalty on the Bobcats in the third led to a power play goal for Victor Johansson 2:55 into the final frame to chop the Cats’ advantage to 4-2.
Late in the game, Daikawa pulled Wojtala for the extra attacker; the move paid off as Tyler Dunagan popped in a Sierra rebound in the game’s last second for the 4-3 final.
Nies finished with nine saves and wound up netting the win, his first career playoff victory in his second postseason appearance; Wojtala took the loss on 16 stops.
“It hurts to come so close and not be able to play for the title,” said Joe Giordano, who wrapped a five-year junior career Sunday, “but all of the guys can’t say enough about the fans of Bismarck/Mandan and the way they’ve supported us all year while we chase our dreams. The fans, coaches and staff we have as Bobcats are the best I’ve seen anywhere.”
The Bobcats finished the season with a total of 43 wins, 17 losses and 10 overtime losses, including a 15-1-4 run starting on March 2 that propelled them to their fifth consecutive Central Division championship.
Sedevie and his coaching and scouting staff immediately shift into off-season mode, with tryout camps beginning Friday in Denver, Colo.
Bobcat Hockey would like to thank all of its fans, staff and sponsors for another great season of Championship Entertainment in 2012-13—you are a part of the team!