WENATCHEE, WA – The Bismarck Bobcats kicked off the 2010 Robertson Cup Tournament with an impressive 5-3 win over the three-time defending national champion St. Louis Bandits Tuesday at the Town Toyota Center.
The two teams battled to a 1-1 tie after one period of play, with Sean McKenzie opening the scoring 5:58 into the game, rattling home a Casey Kleisinger power play rebound for the early lead.
It only took the champs five and a half minutes to answer as Craig Kitto netted a power play score of his own, banging a rebound off the pads of Bobcat goalie Ryan Faragher to even the score with 8:23 left in the first.
“It looked like both teams were feeling eachother out and maybe a bit off their games in the first,” noted Faragher, who made 25 saves for his third win of the 2010 postseason. “Once we came out of the locker room for the second, we got back to playing our game.”
It was a familiar face that helped get the Bobcats back on track in the middle frame as top-scoring defenseman Sam Rendle found a seam in the Bandit defense and freed himself to rip a rising slap shot over the glove of St. Louis netminder Tyler Bruggeman to give the ‘Cats a lead they would not surrender.
Rendle followed up his go-ahead goal with some insurance with 11:18 left in the second, ripping an identical shot to his first marker with an identical result, boosting the lead to 3-1 in favor of the lower-seeded Bobcats.
“[Shooting high glove] wasn’t anything we saw in the game film,” admitted Rendle, “the first shot just worked so well that I figured I’d try it again.”
Leading playoff scorer Dominic Panetta extended the advantage to three goals late in the period, slamming home a Jason Fabian centering feed on the power play with 1:12 left in the second.
The Bandits fought back early in the third as Kitto tallied his second of the night, firing a low rolling shot in transition under Faragher’s glove to chop the Bobcats’ lead to 4-2 with just 5:09 elapsed into the final frame.
Rendle, though, put the game out of reach with 3:42 left, deking around two Bandit forwards and lining a low snap shot through Bruggeman’s legs to complete the hat trick and extend the lead to 5-2.
Cody Ganchar gave the game its final margin with 35 seconds remaining, batting home an Isak Quakenbush rebound to make it 5-3.
“We don’t consider this an upset, and we’re definitely not satisfied with just one win,” noted Rendle. “We know we’re one of the best teams here and we’ll enjoy this for a couple hours and then start getting ready for Traverse City.”
The Bobcats will take on the North Stars Thursday night with a 9:05 PM start at Town Toyota Center following Wednesday’s bye day.
The entire Robertson Cup Tournament will be broadcast locally on the radio home of Bobcat Hockey, Super Talk 1270, KLXX-AM, and worldwide at BismarckBobcats.com via B2 Networks. Tuesday’s pre-game show gets underway at 8:35 PM.
You can also view all Bobcats Robertson Cup games live on the big screen at Reza’s Pitch Beer & Burgers at the corner of 3rd St. and Front St. in Bismarck.