Last-Minute Goal Delivers Bobcats Series Win

ALEXANDRIA, MN — The Bismarck Bobcats punched their tickets for their third straight Central Division Finals thanks to a 2-1 Game Five win over the Alexandria Blizzard Monday at the Runestone Center, capturing the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals three games to two.

Captain Matt Gates got the Bobcats on the board first, redirecting a centering feed from Nikolaj Rosenthal over Blizzard goalie Jake Williams 5:50 into the game for a fast 1-0 lead.

Goaltender Ryan Faragher, inactive since allowing six goals in Game One, stopped all 36 shots sent his way in the first two periods to keep his team ahead by one after the first 40 minutes of the game.

\”Ryan is a big-time goalie and he came up big in what was obviously our most important game of the year,\” beamed Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie, whose faith in his second-year co-captain was rewarded with Faragher\’s fourth win in four elimination games dating back to the opening round of the 2010 Robertson Cup Playoffs.

Alexandria pulled even with 7:39 to go in regulation off a Bobcats\’ defensive zone turnover as Thomas Williams knocked a would-be outlet pass to Nardo Nagtzaam. Nagtzaam fed the puck across to Steve Zierke, who beat Faragher low glove for a 1-1 tie.

With the game deadlocked and overtime looming, the Bobcats tried to get a late line change during a stoppage with 1:13 left in regulation, but were unable to change troops in time, forcing assistant captain Emerson Auvenshine to center a line of Dan Zawacki and Tyler Richter, two wingers he did not play with all night.

The missed line change turned out to be a blessing in disguise as 16 seconds later, Zawacki found Auvenshine wide open on an up-ice rush and the Lansing, Mich., native lined a low slap shot past Williams to boost the Cats to a 2-1 lead with 57 seconds left.

\”I slid way to the right to spread out the defense for Dan,\” recalled Auvenshine, \”and when he got the pass over to me, I had time to look for my shot, and I saw Jake seemed to slip backward a bit so I fired it low.\”

Strong neutral zone play by the Bobcats in the final minute kept the Blizzard at bay until there were 10 seconds left, and a last-second cover by Faragher preserved the 2-1 win and a date with the Coulee Region Chill in the divisional final.

Faragher finished the night with 45 saves and his sixth playoff victory in two seasons to lift the fourth-seeded Cats to one of only two first-round upsets league-wide (#3 Michigan over #2 Traverse City in the North).

Williams picked up 16 saves and finished the playoffs with a 2-3 record.

The curtain will rise on the Central Division Finals on Friday at the Omni Center as the Cats battle the second-seeded Chill for the right to advance to the Robertson Cup Tournament in Topeka, Kan., May 2-8.

Friday\’s Game One will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at As with all away games during the 2010-11 season, fans are encouraged to view the game at Reza’s Pitch—the official away game Home of the Bobcats—at the corner of Third and Front in Bismarck.

Season tickets are now on sale for the 2011-12 season! Call the Bobcat Hockey office at (701) 222-3300 or email for more information on reserving your seats for the entire season as the Bobcats look to defend the Robertson Cup!