The Bellingham Blazers rebounded from a rough showcase by winning an impressive two of three games at Fresno’s Selland Arena, opening up a 23-point lead at the top of the Northwest Division in the process.
Bellingham 3, Fresno 1 – Just 27 seconds after Fresno had tied the game 1-1 in the third period, Robbie Eichelberger responded with what held up as the game-winning goal for Bellingham Blazers in a 3-1 win over the Monsters at Selland Arena on Thursday night.
Fresno pulled goaltender Max Karlenzig in an attempt to get the equalizer, but Bellingham’s Jamahl Eakett’s second goal of the game went into an empty net to seal the deal with :36 left.
The two teams battled through a scoreless tie for the first two periods as Karlenzig and Bellingham’s Kolter Pawlick matched each other save-for-save. Pawlick would emerge with the “W” but each goaltender played very well, each making 26 saves.
Eakett broke the ice 3:59 into the third period, skating down the left side of the ice and burying a wrist shot from the circle, but Fresno’s Maxim Gorshkov evened the score at the 7:18 mark.
Pawlick froze the puck in a scramble in front, forcing a faceoff. Stanislav Danaev won the draw cleanly to Gorshkov at the top of the left circle and he ripped a slap shot that found the twine and tied the game.
Fresno’s jubilation was short-lived. Thomas Steven hustled in on the forecheck and stripped a Monsters defender of the puck behind Karlenzig’s cage. He quickly fed the puck to Eichelberger as he cut to the front of the net and buried the game-winner.
Bellingham 5, Fresno 2 – Five different Blazers lit the lamp on Friday, and Edward Coffey turned aside 21 of 23 shots, as Bellingham won, 5-2.
Timon Prexler’s goal with :15 left in the first period broke a 1-1 tie. The Monsters out-shot the Blazers, 8-7, through a scoreless second period, but Coffey held the fort and Bellingham carried a one-goal lead into the third.
Thomas Steven and Robbie Eichelberger added to the lead with Steven’s goal holding up as the game-winner.
Daneav and Petr Philippov scored the Fresno goals and Tyler Mathews made 33 saves for the Monsters.
Fresno 7, Bellingham 4 – Jeremy Velazquez scored goals two minutes apart in the second period, and added the game-winner in the third, as the Monsters salvaged three points with a 7-4 win on Saturday.
The Monsters led, 4-2, late in the second period, but allowed the Blazers to come back and tie it 5:03 into the third, but Velazquez restored the lead for Fresno, working a nifty give-and-go with Philippov.
Velazquez added two assists in the game for a five-point game. Philippov (2-3-5) matched his output, supplying the final two Monsters goals, cashing in on a wrist shot from the inside edge of the right circle on the power play and hitting the empty net from the red line for a shorthanded goal to close the scoring.
Eakett, Timothy Prexler and Ilya Abubakirov all had a goal and two assists for the Blazers.
--- Compiled by Scott Harrington for Harrington Sports Media