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Friday finals: Bismarck win clinches league's first playoff spot

January 14, 2012

Chicago's Mike Fazio scored the shootout winner on Friday as the Hitmen upset the 1st place Port Huron Fighting Falcons.

Coulee Region 3 @ Bismarck 4 (SO) - The Bismarck Bobcats wrapped up their fourth straight Robertson Cup Playoff berth thanks to a last-second rally and a thrilling shootout triumph to stun the Coulee Region Chill 4-3 Friday at the VFW Sports Center.  The Bobcats are the first team in the NAHL to punch their tickets for April.  The Bobcats got off to a rocky start in the first period when Ross Luedtke broke the score open 10:49 into the game. Jeremy O’Keefe leveled the score just 1:40 later, taking a picture-perfect entry from Patrick Moore and beaming a rising shot over Aaron Davis’ glove for a 1-1 game.  Coulee Region answered as Ryan Jaremko threaded a low shot through traffic on the ensuing double-minor power play that beat Burke five hole to give the Chill a 2-1 lead.  Coulee Region forward Tommy Miller struck for a power play goal in transition with 12:05 left in regulation to push the Chill to a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead.  Filip Starzynski sparked a Bobcat rally, collecting a centering pass on the rush from Danny Ray and spiked it through the legs of Coulee Region netminder Aaron Davis to slice the lead to 3-2.  When the Bobcats were awarded a late power play on a Ross Luedtke trip, captain Bryce Schmitt evened the score on a point-blank marker when Castan Sommer found him wide open in front of Davis for the captain to spin a backhander home with 1:36 to go in regulation.  After a scoreless overtime, the shootout started auspiciously for the Bobcats, who found themselves trailing 3-1 halfway through the third round before consecutive goals from John Furgele and Adam Knochenmus and consecutive stops from Burke gave the Bobcats a chance to win on their fifth shooter.  Starzynski, a left handed shot, drifted to his right to start his attempt then cut hard to his left 20 feet out, causing Davis to commit to his forehand—but Starzynski dragged the puck back to the right as Davis slid left and tucked a backhander neatly into the net for the 4-3 victory.  Burke held firm through numerous Coulee Region opportunities, turning away 21 attempts on the way to his 20th win of the year just three games into January.  Davis was saddled with the loss, falling to 11-12-6 despite 30 stops. Boxscore

Topeka 4 @ Amarillo 3 (SO) – In a battle of South Division powers, it would be the RoadRunners who would edge the Bulls thanks to goals from the first three shooters in a 4-3 shootout win.   Topeka got goals from Andrew O’Leary, Jake Lynes and Trace Strahle, while Ryan Taylor, TJ Sarcona and Matt Johnson scored for Amarillo.Boxscore

Minot 1 @ Austin 3 – Tyler Bruggeman made 31 saves and Trevor Waldoch’s power play goal early in the 3rd period proved to be the difference as Austin beat Minot, 3-1.  Minot took a 1-0 lead thanks to Seth Blair’s 8th goal of the year, but Austin answered with goals from Charlie Adams, Waldoch and an empty-net goal from Brandon Wahlin. Boxscore

Odessa 0 @ Corpus Christi 3 – The Jackalopes fired off 40 shots, but IceRays goaltender Anthony Stolarz stopped all of them in a 3-0 shutout win for Corpus Christi.  Zach Lindsay scored twice and Beau Walker scored the eventual game-winning goal on the power play in the 2nd period.  The IceRays moved a game above .500 with the win, their third straight. Boxscore

Jamestown 3 @ Janesville 5 – After the Ironmen took an early 3-0 lead, the Jets scored five unanswered goals to end the game, including four in the 3rd period to beat Jamestown, 5-3.  NAHL December Player of the Month Darren McCormick had a hat-trick, Jordan Bancroft had three assists and defenseman Garrett Cecere had a goal and assist in the win. Boxscore

Alexandria 4 @ Aberdeen 3 (SO) – Gage Torrel scored twice in regulation and Aidan Cavallini had two assists in his NAHL debut as Alexandria edged Aberdeen in a shootout, 4-3.  Thomas Williams had the other goal for the Blizzard, while Mack Ohnstead, Cory Ward and Paul Prescott scored for the Wings. Boxscore

Wichita Falls 1 @ Texas 2 (OT) – The Wildcats led almost entire game, but CJ Reuschlein’s goal with less than three minutes remaining, sent the game to overtime, which set up Jackson Leef’s overtime heroics in his first game back with the Tornado this season.  Zach Pochiro scored for the Wildcats in the 1st period.  Texas outshot Wichita Falls, 34-19.Boxscore

Port Huron 3 @ Chicago 4 (SO) – Chicago had a 3-0 lead after two period with goals from John Mejia, Anthony Annuziato and Zach Mudge, only to see the Fighting Falcons storm back with three goals in the 3rd period from Kody Polin, Logan Lemirande and Nolan Valleau.  In the 18-man shootout, Mike Fazio scored the winner for the Hitmen. Boxscore

Wenatchee 2 @ Dawson Creek 0 – Robert Nichols stopped all 27 shots posting his 5th shutout of the year as Wenatchee blanked the Rage, 2-0.  It took until the 3rd period, but the Wild got goals from Shawn Pauly (game-winner) and Matt Cope.  Edward Dyson made 36 saves in the loss for Dawson Creek. Boxscore

Alaska 4 @ Fresno 3 – Mitch Kontny and Brandon Brossoit scored in the 3rd period as the Avalanche came from behind to defeat the Monsters, 4-3.  Fresno had a 3-1 lead with two goals from Brendan Bradley and another from Mikhail Bushinski, but Alaska scored the final three goals to edge the Monsters in regulation. Boxscore

Kenai River 1 @ Fairbanks 2 – Bobby Murphy gave Kenai River a 1-0 lead in the 1st period, but Fairbanks got goals in the 2nd period from JT Osborn and Tayler Munson to top the Brown Bears, 2-1.  Fairbanks outshot Kenai River 47-25.  Austin Severson made 45 saves in the losing effort, while Alex Fons made 24 saves for the IceDogs. Boxscore

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