Friday Finals: Wild, Bobcats claim wins in Game 3
May 4, 2013
Aaron Nelson denies a pair of Austin forwards on Friday (photo by Will Kinkaid, Bismarck Tribune). On the front: Jono Davis scores one of his two goals in a 3-1 win over Fairbanks (photo by Sam Harrel, News-Miner).
West Division Finals, Game# 3
Wenatchee Wild 3 @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs 1 (Wenatchee leads best of 5 series, 2-1)
(By Ed Topowski) Jono Davis scored two goals, Robert Nichols gave up just one marker to help their team secure a 3-1 victory Friday over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in Game 3 of the NAHL West Division finals at the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Wild can punch their ticket to the 2013 NAHL Robertson Cup Championship Tournament with one more win over the Ice Dogs. Game 4 of the series is Saturday in Fairbanks.
Davis lit the first lamp of the contest 5:16 into the first period. After receiving a pass from Blake Butzow in the neutral zone down the right wing, Davis slid the puck between a defenseman’s wickets and scored one-on-one with a glove-side shot over Steve Perry.
Davis got back to work and doubled the visiting team’s lead to 2-0 when he notched a 5-on-3 power-play goal 81 second into the second period. Josh Hartley and Jacob Barber assisted on Davis’ eventual game-winning goal, which he scored on a one-time from the far point.
The Ice Dogs sliced the Wild lead in half with 3:13 left before the second intermission when Lawrence Cornellier scored on a breakaway after receiving a pass from Nick Hinz.
Nichols made two key saves on shots from the slot with under 10 minutes to play in the third before the Wild put the game away with 26 seconds remaining when Chris Jones scored an empty-netter. Joe Sullivan assisted.
Nichols made 26 saves on 27 shots to earn the win, his fifth of the postseason. Fairbanks goalie Steve Perry made 30 saves on 32 shots. Wenatchee scored one power-play goal on six tries while Fairbanks went 0-for-4 on power play.
Central Division Finals, Game #3
Austin Bruins 2 @ Bismarck Bobcats 3 (Bismarck leads best of 5 series, 2-1)
(By Paul Teeple) Trailing 2-0 early in the second period, the Bismarck Bobcats rattled off three straight goals to edge the top-seeded Austin Bruins 3-2 Friday at the VFW Sports Center to claim a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five-game Central Division Finals.
When C.J. Smith’s fourth goal of the series boosted the visiting Bruins to a 2-0 lead with 13:16 left to go in the second, things looked dire for the homestanding Bobcats with Bruins goalie Nick Lehr heating up between the pipes.
Moments later, things went from bad to worse when forward Matt Anders was lost for the night to an upper-body injury, but the Bobcats were able to draw a penalty on Cody Dixon for tripping with 11:13 showing in the middle frame. Fifteen seconds into the man advantage, Shane Omdahl—Anders’ replacement on Cats’ the top power play unit—popped home a centering pass from Seth Blair at the 10:58 mark of the stanza to get the Bobcats on the board at 2-1.
Following Omdahl’s goal, Lehr stood on his head—as he has done all series for the Bruins—denying a golden opportunity for Blair on a point-blank tap-in with 8:58 to go in the middle frame to keep it a one-goal contest. Bobcat netminder Aaron Nelson made some big saves of his own, wrapping monster stops on Riley Colvard and Nolan Kirley around the second intermission to hold his team within striking distance.
Good fortune intervened on behalf of the Cats with 11:49 left in regulation as Levi Blom wound up for a one-time slap shot but lost his balance, sending a slow, wobbling shot toward the net. Lehr challenged hard, expecting a heavy blast from the rookie blueliner, but got crossed-up by the misfire as the puck bounced through his legs and in to tie the score at two.
When Ryan Callahan, seeing his first postseason action of 2013, drew a cross-checking penalty on Kirley in the dying moments of a Chris Diver holding penalty, the Bobcat power play sprang into action: scoring 21 seconds after a brief 4-on-4 ended as Matt Pohlkamp whistled home a one-timer off a Nate Repensky setup to boost the Cats to their first lead of the night at 3-2.
John Simonson struck for his fourth goal of the playoffs with 6:38 remaining in the first to give Austin a 1-0 lead after one, cashing in a 2-on-1 rush on the penalty kill with Chris Fischer. Smith popped home a Fischer rebound 6:44 into the second to double the lead to 2-0 before the Bobcats’ rally started.
Nelson remained sharp, turning aside 28 shots from the Bruins to secure his 10th career playoff win. Lehr impressed with 37 saves but could not avoid his second loss of the 2013 postseason.
The Bobcats now have an opportunity to punch their tickets to the 2013 Robertson Cup Tournament at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Tex., with a win Saturday. Game Four is scheduled for a 7:15pm puck drop on Saturday at the VFW Sports Center.