By Joel Badzinski | LaCrosse Tribune | Friday, April 15, 2011
ONALASKA – Coulee Region Chill coach Garrett Strot started his postgame speech early Friday night.
With the final seconds ticking down on a disappointing 6-4 loss to the Bismarck Bobcats in Game 1 of the NAHL Central Division finals at the OmniCenter, Strot reminded his team that it had been there before.
The Chill lost the opener of their first-round series to Owatonna, then won three straight. They'll have to pull off a similar rally to get past the defending Robertson Cup champion Bobcats.
"I just said, ‘Hey, it's a five-game series. We lost Game 1 last time,'" Strot said. "I'm sure (Bismarck) is thinking the same thing."
Actually, they were feeling relieved. Bismarck, built around sound team defense and goaltending, doesn't like to get into shootouts. But the Bobcats looked good going up and down the ice Friday.
"Obviously, it was different than what we expected," Bismarck coach Layne Sedevie said. "We never want to get into a run-and-gun game with a skilled team, and we did let 'em back in the game there."
Briefly. Bismarck built leads of 4-0 and 5-1 before Coulee Region's Berkley Scott buried two goals late in the second to make it 5-3.
"Even after our first goal, we felt like we could score," said Scott, who has five points in five playoff games. "Our adrenaline was going, but we knew we still had to work for it in the third period."
Bobcats forward Charles Mosey, who assisted on his team's first three goals, put a big damper on the Chill's momentum with a goal at 4:10 of the third. The Chill put 14 shots on Ryan Faragher in the third but couldn't answer until Eric Drapluk scored with 14 seconds left; too little, too late.
"I was feeling really confident, actually," Strot said. "We started playing well the last part of the third period and had some opportunities. But they got the big one."
Bismarck jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on power-play goals by Matthew Gates and Daniel Ray. They kept pouring it on in the second. Daniel Zawacki scored the first of his two goals – he added three assists – for a 3-0 lead. Bismarck took a 4-0 lead when the Chill's Jake Useldinger accidentally tapped the puck past Aaron Davis (29 saves).
Coulee Region solved Ryan Faragher (29 saves) midway through the second when Tommy Miller tipped in a shot by Chris Hughes.
But the Bobcats used another power play to regain the four-goal lead as Zawacki zipped a shot over Davis' glove.
"Them getting three power-play goals – our penalty kill has been pretty solid all year but we've got to do something there, switch something up," Strot said. "And we didn't score on the power play."
Scott took the game over for a stretch late in the second, beating Faragher from the circle after Micky Knox pulled the puck back to him on a face-off. Scott did it again with 45 seconds left, turning a defenseman around with a move and then sliding the puck between Faragher's pads.
Then Mosey made it 6-3, and Faragher made sure the Chill didn't get another rally started.
"We've been battling back all year," Scott said. "Win or lose the first game, we've always said Game 2 is the biggest one. We're just going to put this behind us and be ready for tomorrow."