Day three of the NAHL Robertson Cup Tournament saw the first blow out of the tournament, but due to the oddball tie breaker rules the losing team actually benefitted from the lopsided score.
The Wenatchee Wild (1-1) went into game one against the Amarillo Bulls (2-0) on a mission. It took Trevor Stewart (Joe Sullivan, Dylan Abood) put home a rebound only 36 seconds to get the route started. Max McHugh (David Mead, Derick Kuchera) followed with a goal at 2:24 redirecting a rebound off the end boards. And then NAHL Defenseman of the Year Joshua Hartley went coast to coast through three Bulls defenders and beat Paul Berrafato glove side 4:56 to put the Bulls in an early hole and chase Berrafato from the net. Wenatchee greeted Collin Delia with another unassisted off the stick of Jono Davisto take a 4-0 lead into the first intermission.
The second period was once again all Wild with both goals coming via special teams play. Brian Williams (Noah Nelson) had a short hander at 9:58. Delia misplayed the puck behind the net sending it right to Nelson who fed Williams in front of the wide open net. Nelson (Chris Kerr, Jacob Barber) picked up a goal of his own on the power play off of Delia and in with 4:31 remaining in the period.
Sullivan (Abood, Davis) netted the seventh and final goal of the contest at 7:24 of the third on another Wenatchee power play. Sullivan fired a shot from the point that went off a defenseman and past Delia.
The Wild outshot the Bulls 28-18 on the night and were 2-9 on the power play while holding Amarillo to 0-5. Berrafato, who had allowed only two goals in 150 minutes in the Bulls previous two wins, was lit up early to take the loss. Berrafato allowed 3 goals on only nine shots faced. Although Berrafato was credited with the loss, Delia didn’t fare much better as he had 15 saves on 19 shots on goal. Robert Nichols turned aside all 18 shots he faced for the shutout win.
The Bismarck Bobcats (1-1) went into their game against the (0-2) Jamestown Ironmen, knowing they had little chance of making the championship game regardless of what they did due to the afore mentioned tie breaker rules.
The first tie breaker was the standard goal differential. However, there was an “Important Note” at the bottom which stated “In the event of a 3 way tie at the conclusion of round robin play, the tiebreaking procedures listed above will be utilized to determine the #1 team. Next, the results of head to head competition will be used to break the tie between the remaining two clubs, with the club that won the head to head matchup advancing on, if applicable.”
With their seven goal blow out of Amarillo, Wenatchee sat at a +9 goal differential. Bismarck entered the game with a zero goal differential and a loss to Amarillo the previous night. That meant that the only way the Bobcats could push aside the Bulls and make the playoff was to defeat the Ironmen by 10 goals.
In the second period Daniel Cesarz (Nicholas Sierra) pulled the Ironmen even at 1:07 on the power play thanks to blue collar work by Sierra to win a puck battle behind the Bismarck net. Ryan Callahan (Matt Anders, Bob Kinne) scored at 5:18 to put Bismarck back into the lead for good. At 9:25 Chris Diver (Shane Omdahl, Patrick Moore) increased the lead with a shot through traffic and behind the screened Ballmer. The goal ended Ballmer’s night and brought Blake Wojtala into the game. Cory Chapman (Anders) added a late period goal with only seven seconds to go on an odd man rush putting the puck over Wojtala’s glove.
In the third, Jamestown made a push to get back into the game. Victor Johansson (Sierra, Ryan Doucet) had a power play goal at 2:55 beating Bryan Nies who had replaced Aaron Nelson midway through the second to cut into the Bismarck lead. Tyler Dunagan (Sierra, Michael Mazzotta) added a late goal at 19:59.
Bismarck outshot Jamestown 33-17 in the game. Officially Jamestown was 1-5 on the power play but their first goal was on the power play although not credited that way in the boxscore. Bismarck was 0-3 with the man advantage. Neither of the starters figured into the decision. Nelson faced only six shots on goal allowing a single goal. Nies logged the win with nine saves on 11 shots faced. For Bismarck, Ballmer made 13 saves on 16 shots faced before giving way to Wojtala who took the loss despite allowing only a single goal on 17 shots.
Monday night’s NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship will be a rematch of Sunday’s matinee when the Wenatchee Wild face off against the Amarillo Bulls. Game time is 7:30pm at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, TX. The NAHL has announced ticket prices for the game at only $5.00 each.