Late Goal Delivers Bobcats Day One Win
FRISCO, TX – Tied in the waning minutes of regulation, Stanislav Dzakhov tallied a breakaway goal with 1:05 left in the third period to lift the Bismarck Bobcats to a 3-2 win over Wenatchee Wild in the first game of the 2013 Robertson Cup Tournament Friday at Dr. Pepper Arena.
Following a defensive-zone stand that saw Patrick Moore strip Wild forward Max McHugh on an open-net chance, Filip Starzynski flared a long outlet pass to Dzakhov between Wenatchee defenders at the Wild blue line. On the ensuing run-out, Dzakhov made a deke to his backhand and zipped a rising shot over the blocker of goalie Robbie Nichols for a 3-2 Bobcat lead with 65 seconds remaining.
“Unreal play by Filip to get me that pass,” credited Dzakhov, who now has four playoff goals for the Bobcats. “We’d been close to having that play all night and ‘Fil’ put it right on my tape [for the breakaway].”
Wild bench boss Bliss Littler immediately called a timeout to rally his troops; after pulling Nichols for the extra attacker Wenatchee went on the offensive but could only get one shot through the Cats’ blanket of shot-blockers. Time expired as Moore blocked a shot from Chris Kerr, delivering the Bobcats a 3-2 win on day one.
Joe Giordano got the Central champs started quickly, putting back a Chris Diver rebound 3:22 into the game for a fast 1-0 Bobcat lead.
Wenatchee responded a mere 36 seconds later on an up-ice rush when defenseman Dylan Abood popped in a centering effort from Kerr to level the game at one.
Just over two minutes later, Bobcats netminder Aaron Nelson made his best save of the playoffs, flying left-to-right to deny a wide-open chance on a 2-on-1 for Kerr and keep the game even after one.
“Aaron has been making game-changing saves all playoffs,” pointed out Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, whose team now stands 1-0 after day one of three in the Robertson Cup round robin, “and he did it again after Wenatchee’s first goal.
Nearly halfway through the second period, Evan Schmidbauer pulled the Wild ahead 2-1, tapping in a Josh Hartley rebound at the 10:57 mark of the middle frame.
The Bobcats did not wait long to answer back as rookie forward Matt Anders rushed 1-on-1 into the Wenatchee zone, chipping the puck past Wild blueliner David Mead and firing a low snap shot off the right post and in to tie it up 2-2 in a matter of 1:37.
Both Jono Davis and McHugh nearly put the Wild in front in the second half of the third; Davis rang the crossbar on a 20-foot slap shot and McHugh was denied by Moore’s sterling defensive play less than a minute before Dzakhov stole the show.
Nelson made 23 saves for his first career win at the Robertson Cup and his seventh victory this postseason; Nichols—who went 4-0-0 against the Cats in the regular season—suffered his fifth playoff loss of 2013 on 18 stops.
With the win, the Bobcats sit in a first place tie atop the round robin standings with the Amarillo Bulls, who tipped the Jamestown Ironmen 2-1 in the late game Friday.
Robertson Cup play continues Saturday at 7:30 PM for the Bobcats against top-seeded Amarillo, the league’s regular-season champions. The Cats close out the round robin Sunday with a 7:30 PM face-off against the North Division winning Ironmen.
Saturday’s tilt 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.