BISMARCK, ND – The Bismarck Bobcats made the most of a couple lucky bounces and locked down late defensively to pull away for a 5-2 win over the Alexandria Blizzard in Game Two of the Central Division Finals Saturday at the VFW Sports Center.
The win gives the ‘Cats a commanding two-games-to-none lead in their best of five series with a trip to the 2010 Robertson Cup Tournament in Wenatchee, Wash., on the line.
Facing a 2-2 tie after two periods, the Bobcats sparked a three goal rally with a little good fortune when Tyler Klein ripped a low transition snap shot that was initially saved by Blizzard goaltender Robert Tadazak 8:24 into the third. Tadazak, however, lost control of the saved puck, which rolled behind him and over the goal line before the Alexandria backcheck could pull it from danger.
“At first look, I thought [Tadazak] had it held for a whistle,” recalled Klein, “but I heard the crowd rise up like something was about to happen and I caught a look at it through his legs then turned to the ref [Tom Chmielewski] and saw him signaling the goal.”
Chmielewski conferred with the goal judge to discuss the apparent goal, which whipped the crowd of 1,283 into a frenzy when confirmed.
Thirty seconds after Klein gave the Bobcats the lead, Gavin Hartzog continued the home side’s run of good luck when his transition centering feed—intended for Nick Jensen—bounced off the shin guard of Alexandria defenseman Chris Franks and into the net for a 4-2 advantage.
Jason Fabian capped the surge for the Bobcats with 7:54 left, deflecting a power play shot from Dominic Panetta over Tadazak and in to make it 5-2.
Bobcat netminder Jake Williams made the late rally stand up, making several key saves down the stretch to preserve his fourth postseason win of 2010 on 23 stops.
“The guys in front of me took over in the third, just like they always do,” said Williams, who came to the Bobcats in a trade with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs after Christmas. “Alexandria seemed to only send out about two-and-a-half lines all third period—and with our conditioning that’s a pretty big gamble—and we were able to finish strong.”
The ‘Cats built an early 2-0 lead on first period goals from Sean McKenzie and Sam Rendle, but Nardo Nagtzaam notched a late first-period score to pull the Blizzard to within 2-1 at the end of the opening frame.
Simon Cederborg-Nilsson’s power play goal with 6:55 left in the second tied the game heading into intermission number two, but the Blizzard were never able to pull ahead.
Tadazak made 22 saves but was saddled with his second straight loss, dropping the Alexandria netminder to 3-3 in the 2010 playoffs.
The Bobcats now have another elimination game upcoming in Game Three on Friday at the Runestone Center in Alexandria. A win would send the ‘Cats to their second straight Robertson Cup Tournament and secure Bismarck consecutive Central Cups.
Puck drop is scheduled Friday for 7:05 in Alexandria.
Game Three 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 starts at 6:45 PM.
Playoff tickets for the 2010 Robertson Cup Playoffs are available now for the Central Division Finals! You can reserve your postseason seats by calling the Bobcat Hockey Office at 701-222-3300, online at http://tickets.bismarckbobcats.com or by e-mailing the office for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.