Michigan Warriors coach Moe Mantha knows that staying mentally focused in an unusual play-in series will be crucial.
Mantha couldn’t have asked for a more encouraging sign to begin the best-of-three series, seeing his team commit just one penalty and cash in on Bismarck’s only infraction to earn a 1-0 victory against the defending champion Bobcats Thursday night at Landon Arena.
“I think when we came out both teams showed a little nervousness and it was a matter of just settling down,” Mantha said. “This is a lot of pressure. It’s the first time a lot of these guys have dealt with something like this.
“I think we played pretty smart hockey. We worked hard and competed hard.”
The Warriors netted the lone score of the game when Tyler Perpich scored a power-play goal at 18:58 of the second period.
Michigan goaltender Robert Tadazak put on a show in net, stopping 27 shots. Bismarck netminder Ryan Faragher was also impressive, turning aside 25 of 26 shots.
“They had some odd-man rushes and our goalie made the saves. And we had some good opportunities and their goalie made the big saves,” Mantha said. “Right now it’s two good goalies battling each other, and when you think about it, two division winners are battling each other. It’s good hockey.”
Mantha said seeing Tadazak come up huge for the Warriors was nothing new.
“I would say he’s probably the most valuable player on our team, no doubt about it,” Mantha said. “Our team feeds off of how good Tadazak is in net.”
Game 2 will be at 7:05 p.m. Friday. If Bismarck wins Game 2, a “mini-game” will follow. The mini-game will be one 20-minute period of hockey. The leader at the end of the period will be declared the winner of the series.
“If we come out and play hard and be honest with ourselves, we won’t have to worry about the mini-game,” Mantha said.
Attendance for the play-in opener was estimated at 574. Admission for Game 2 will be free, just like Game 1.
Robertson Cup play will begin Tuesday.
Bismarck 0 0 0 -- 0
Michigan 0 1 0 -- 1
First period -- No scoring.
Second period -- 1. Michigan, Perpich (Chapman, Szuma), 18:58.
Third period -- No scoring.
Shots on goal -- Bismarck 11-11-8 – 27. Michigan 13-7-6 – 26.
Goalies -- Bismarck, Faragher. Michigan, Tadazak.
Attendance -- 574
Stars of the game -- First star: Tadazak. Second star: Perpich. Third star: Faragher.