FRISCO, TX – The Bismarck Bobcats could not come up with one last rally and saw their record-breaking season halted Saturday when they dropped a 6-2 decision to the Amarillo Bulls at Dr. Pepper Arena to finish pool play at the 2012 Robertson Cup Tournament with a record of 1-2.
The Bobcats’ fate was sealed six hours after their Saturday game went final when the Fairbanks Ice Dogs defeated the Port Huron Fighting Falcons 4-3 to win Pool B and the Texas Tornado fell in overtime to the St. Louis Bandits 3-2 but secured a goal differential that was six goals better than the Bobcats’ to advance at 1-2.
Amarillo got on the board 11:34 into the game as the Bobcats’ inability to clear their own zone led to a 10-foot shot for Matt Davis that the Bull forward wired over the glove of Bobcat goalie Tommy Burke to put the Bulls up 1-0.
Early in the second the Bulls used a stroke of luck to extend the lead when Joe Kozlak, looking to run clock on the penalty kill, threw the puck in front of the Bobcats’ net and saw it deflect off a Bobcat backchecker and in past Burke just 52 seconds into the middle frame to make it 2-0 Amarillo.
It took the Bobcats just over a minute to start their push-back, though. Frank DeAugustine chopped the Amarillo lead in half with 17:53 to go in the frame, cashing in a give-and-go with Filip Starzynski over Bulls keeper Mike Taffe for a 2-1 score.
A mere 3:10 later, Donald Olivieri leveled the score at 2-2 on a 4-on-4, faking a shot and dekeing past defender Luke Jenkins before rocketing a wrister off Taffe’s shoulder and in.
The Bulls responded 95 seconds later as Tyler Deresky ripped a shot around a screen in front past Burke and boosted Amarillo to a 3-2 lead.
After Deresky’s goal, the Bobcats created numerous opportunities in front of Taffe, including posts hit by Olivieri and Tyler Richter on the rush.
A critical error on the part of the Bobcats put the Central champs in a deeper hole with 1:28 to go as a loose puck rolled to a stop in front of Burke. While three Bobcat defenders tried to decide who would play the loose puck, Kozlak streaked in and snapped a quick shot past Burke to put the Bulls back ahead by two at 4-2.
Two goals in the final 12 seconds of the game from Davis and Brooks Behling sealed the Bobcats fate and gave the game its final count of 6-2.
Burke finished with 33 saves but wrapped up the postseason with a 2-2 record. Taffe made 25 saves for his fourth win of the postseason.
With the win, Amarillo moves on to the national semifinals, where they will face St. Louis. Fairbanks and Texas will face off in the other semifinal.
The Bobcats finish 2011-12 with a combined regular and postseason record of 52-17-2 while setting regular season team records for wins (45), standings points (92), consecutive home wins (14), goals by a defenseman (Donald Olivieri, 22) and wins by a goaltender (Tommy Burke, 31) on their way to their fourth straight Central Division Playoff Championship.
Bobcat Hockey would like to thank all of its fans, staff and sponsors for a fantastic 2011-12 season—we couldn’t be Bobcats without you!