Three-Goal Rally Carries Bobcats in Game Two
BISMARCK, ND – Trailing by one in the second period Saturday, the Bismarck Bobcats rattled off three straight goals to streak past the Brookings Blizzard 6-3 at the VFW Sports Center to seize a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five-game Central Division Semifinals.
After an Eric Brenk power play goal lifted the visiting Blizzard to a 2-1 lead with 12:36 left in the second, Stanislav Dzakhov sparked a big rally for the Bobcats when the veteran forward from Moscow blazed home a one-timer from Adam Knochenmus on the power play with 10:14 remaining in the frame.
Prior to his equalizer, Dzakhov’s forward line with Filip Starzynski and Matt Pohlkamp had been held scoreless in the young postseason after blitzing the opposition for eight goals in the month of March.
“We were feeling a little unlucky there for a little while,” admitted Dzakhov, who racked up 10 goals in 29 regular season games after arriving in a December trade, “which was frustrating because we were getting some quality chances but couldn’t bury. It was a nice relief to finally get one.”
The Bobcats took the lead for good with 2:13 to go in the middle stanza as Bob Kinne blocked a shot in the Cats’ defensive zone, triggering a 3-on-1 rush in which the Bemidji State recruit threaded the needle to Matt Anders, who buried his second goal of the playoffs for a 3-2 edge that the home side would carry into the second intermission.
Starzynski put a cap on the three-goal surge, registering the second goal of the night for his line with Dzakhov and Pohlkamp as the assistant captain from Warsaw batted a back-door pass on a 2-on-1 from Dzakhov in past Blizzard goalie Drew Weigman for a measure of insurance in the form of a 4-2 lead 4:03 into the third.
Brookings halved the lead with 9:49 left in the final frame on Brenk’s second goal of the night as the rookie forward sent home a Drew Brevig rebound.
When the Blizzard were assessed a head contact penalty on Aidan Cavallini with 4:56 remaining in regulation, Bismarck native Seth Blair made Brookings pay just four seconds into the ensuing power play, collecting Anders’ face-off win and zipping a low backhander past Weigman for his second goal of the night and a 5-3 advantage.
“We’ve been able to have success lately on the ‘PP’ because everyone has been willing to get to the front of the net to create chances,” explained Blair, whose two goals and one assist Saturday rocketed the second-year forward to the top of the 2013 playoff scoring list, “even though that second goal was right off the faceoff, Evan [Giesler] was creating traffic to give me a lane to the front.”
Blizzard head coach Cory Laylin pulled Weigman for an extra attacker with 2:56 left in the game but Brookings could not solve Nelson, who denied a number of second-chance opportunities by Cavallini and Thomas Williams.
Giesler, who also scored Friday for the Cats, put the finishing touches on the Game Two victory on a 100-foot rising shot into the empty net for the final 6-3 count.
In the first period, the two sides traded goals as Tyler Cayemberg struck on a Cody Marooney rebound, only to be answered by a top-corner slap shot by Blair on the rush, knotting the game at one through 20 minutes.
Nelson made 27 saves for his seventh career playoff win; Weigman stopped 31 Bobcat shots but couldn’t avoid his second loss of the 2013 postseason.
With the win, the Bobcats took both games of a home playoff weekend for the first time since the 2010 Central Division Finals against Alexandria.
“That’s the first thing I said to the guys when we got back to the locker room [after the game]: they were the first team I’ve coached that took advantage of both home games in a playoff series,” noted Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose teams were 0-4 in the second home game of playoff series before Saturday. “Now we’ve got a chance to move on next week, but that will be the real trick: the hardest game to win is the one that ends a team’s season.”
The Bobcats’ first road contest of the 2013 postseason will be Game Three of the Central Semifinals, slated for a 7:30 PM start Friday at Larson Ice Center in Brookings.
Friday’s elimination game 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 7:00 PM.