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Friday Finals: Bismarck claims Central Division with win

March 17, 2012

Bismarck 3 @ Alexandria 2 (SO) -The Bismarck Bobcats are NAHL Central Division Regular Season Champions for the third time in four seasons after holding off the Alexandria Blizzard for a 3-2 shootout win Friday at the Runestone Center. Adam Knochenmus got the Bobcats started with 3:25 left in the first period using the Alexandria defender as a screen on goalie Jacob Meyers to rip home his 13th of the year to push the visitors ahead 1-0. Donald Olivieri was the recipient of some good luck 7:44 into the second period when he looped a shot toward the Alexandria net that Meyers mis-played off his right knee, inadvertently deflecting the puck into his own cage to double the Cats’ lead to 2-0.  Alexandria picked up a little luck of their own late in the middle frame as forward Aidan Cavallini fed a wide-open Justin Moody in front of the Bobcats’ net for an easy tap-in with 46 seconds left in the second and a 2-1 game after two. Despite the Bobcats outshooting Alexandria 16-4 in the third period, the Blizzard finished their comeback 12:27 into the final frame on the power play when captain Thomas Williams was able to beat Bobcat netminder Tommy Burke on a low shot inside the far post for a 2-2 tie.  After a scoreless overtime and in the first three rounds of decisive shootout, the Bobcats’ John Furgele, Castan Sommer all came up empty while Burke denied Nick D’Avolio, Seth Ronsberg and Dylan Zink. Dan Zawacki went five-hole past Meyers in the fourth round to boost the Cats to a 1-0 lead and Burke kept it right there by fighting off a move from Craig Lindegard. Knochenmus, who came into the game a perfect 4-for-4 on the season in the shootout, was called on in the fifth round and did not disappoint, dekeing to his left and burying a low shot to deliver the Bobcats the win and the division. Burke, who nailed down 21 saves on the way to his 30th win of 2011-12, went unblemished in the shootout for the second time this year. Meyers was saddled with the loss, only his second after regulation, despite 30 saves. Boxscore

Wichita Falls 1 @ Odessa 6 – It is officially a two-team race for the final playoff spot in the South as the Jackalopes defeated the Wildcats 6-1, eliminating Wichita Falls from playoff contention, while the Jacks drew within two points of Corpus Christi for the 4th and final playoff spot.  Odessa never trailed in the game and got two goals from Taylor Portner and multi-point nights from Josh Obregon, Alex Ostrowski, Tyler Minx, Tyler Cayemberg and Tyller Robert. Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves in the win. Boxscore

Janesville 3 @ Springfield 4 (OT) – In a potential first round playoff match-up in the Midwest, Ben Kramer scored the overtime winning goal with just :11 seconds remaining as Springfield edged Janesville, 4-3.  Josef Pontasch was one of the other stars for Springfield as he chimed in on every Jr. Blues goal recording a goal and three assists.  Kyle Cook had a goal and two assists for the Jr. Blues, while Eric Carlson scored two of Janesville’s three goals in the loss. Boxscore

Corpus Christi 2 @ Amarillo 3 – Despite a 51-19 shots advantage, Amarillo need a goal from Tyler Deresky with less than :04 seconds remaining in the game to defeat the IceRays, 3-2.  The loss gives Corpus Christi just a two point lead in the race for the 4th and final playoff spot in the South with Odessa.  Greg Gibson tallied twice for the Bulls in the 1st and 2nd period, but those goals were answered by goals from the IceRays Chris Taff and Jonathan Grebosky.  Anthony Stolarz made 48 saves in the loss. Boxscore

Michigan 2 @ Port Huron 6 – In yet another potential first round playoff preview, Port Huron edged closer to the North Division title with a 6-2 home win over the Michigan Warriors.  Ian Miller and Easton Powers each scored twice and Max Milosek made 31 saves in the win.  Kody Polin and Nico Sierra added the other goals for the Fighting Falcons, while Martin Gruse and Robert Mantha scored in the loss for Michigan.  Brach Tiller took the loss for Michigan, making 37 saves. Boxscore

Jamestown 1 @ Traverse City 3 – Kyle Laslo made 31 saves as the North Stars toppled the Ironmen for a second straight night in Traverse City.  Jared Van Wormer had two points, including the game’s first goal, which was answered back in the 1st period by Jamestown’s Luc Gerdes.  That would be all the scoring for the Ironmen as Eric Rivard tallied a power play goal in the 2nd period and Will Badner added the insurance goal in the 3rd period.  Kyle Schempp had two assists for the second straight game for Traverse City. Boxscore

Chicago 4 @ Coulee Region 1 – The Hitmen’s flickering playoff hopes stayed alive for another night as they scored three goals in the 3rd period to defeat the Coulee Region Chill, 4-1.  Mac Jansen gave the Chill a 1-0 lead, but that was answered by the first of two straight Hitmen shorthanded goals, the first from Zach Schrotenboer and the second from Alex Murphy.  Two empty net goals from Steven Sherman and David Gandara sealed the win to help the Hitmen avoid playoff elimination. Boxscore

Minot 1 @ Austin 0 (OT) – In a classic NAHL goaltending duel, it was Minot Minotauros goaltender Tim Shaughnessy who stopped all 33 shots to earn not only his first shutout of the season, but also the first in Minotauros history as they edged the Austin Bruins, 1-0.  Tyler Bruggeman made 29 saves in the loss for the Bruins.  With less than two minutes remaining in overtime, it was Hans Drawbert who scored the game-winner for Minot with assists to Mike Mezzano and Denis Dalidovich. Boxscore

St. Louis 4 @ Topeka 3 – The Bandits jumped out to a 4-1 lead and managed to hang on for a 4-3 win in Topeka on Friday night.  Cody Ganchar struck first for the Bandits, but that was answered by Topeka’s Kyle Sharkey.  Ryan Stouffer would then score the first of the three straight for the Bandits on the power play to make it 2-1.  Joe Kalisz made it 3-1 and Greg Johnson then made it 4-1.  Richard Young and Ben Bahe scored late in the 3rd period for Topeka, but it wasn’t enough. Boxscore

New Mexico 2 @ Texas 4 – The Tornado outshot the Mustangs 38-8, but it wasn’t until late in the 3rd period that the advantage turned their way thanks to some solid netminding by New Mexico’s Jake Stafford.  After Taylor Herndon gave Texas a 1-0 lead, New Mexico answered back with goals from Jimmy Peplinski and Marcus Nordlund to take a 2-1 lead all the way until the middle of the 3rd period. Drew Mayer tied the game at 2-2 and Herndon added his second along with a goal from Jackson Leef to give the Tornado the win. Boxscore

Kenai River 1 @ Alaska 2 – The Avalanche moved closer to securing a playoff bid with a big 2-1 home win over Kenai River.  All the scoring was done in the 1st period and then the goalie shined the rest of the way.  Tanner Fahlstedt gave the home side the lead with a power play goal, which was then followed by another Alaska goal from Gage Christianson.  Mitch Kontny assisted on both goals.  Chris Blessing drew the Bears to within 2-1, but Avs netminder Nick Kulmanovsky held the fort the rest of the way for the win. Boxscore

Dawson Creek 1 @ Wenatchee 4 – Greg Lewis made 13 saves and the Wild scored the final four goals of the game to secure a playoff bid for the 4th consecutive season, as the Wild beat the Rage, 4-1 in Wenatchee.  After an opening goal on a nice individual effort from the Rage’s Dylan Rota, Wenatchee answered back in the 2nd period with goals from Kyle Vogel and Ben Carey.  Two more goals in the 3rd period from Chris Kerr and Matt Cope sealed the win for the Wild, which was their 4th straight. Boxscore

Fresno 4 @ Fairbanks 5 (SO) – The defending champs moved themselves closer to a division title with a 5-4 shootout win over Fresno on Friday.  Fresno had the early lead with goals from Karl Andersen and Riley Borer, which answered a goal from the Ice Dogs Justin Woods.  Rudy Sulmonte, Gabe Levin and Evan Wilson all scored in the 2nd period, drowning out a goal from Fresno’s Luke Sandler.  Dominic Valencia’s 3rd period marker tied the game, sending it to a shootout, where Fairbanks scored twice, while Fresno was blanked by Ice Dogs goalie Alex Fons. Boxscore

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