Talk about delivering in crunch time.
Butte’s Petr Panacek scored a goal with 5.6 seconds left Sunday afternoon, and the Butte Cobras beat the Bellingham Blaze 3-2 in a Thorne Cup playoff game at the Butte Community Ice Center. Stats
The victory completed the 2-0 sweep in the best-of-three series. The Cobras will now head to Southern Oregon for a best-of-three second-round series against the Spartans.
The goal ended what was an otherwise frustrating game for the Cobras, who couldn’t shake the Blaze despite outshooting the road team 41-17.
The Cobras, though, didn’t trail for the second straight game.
Butte led 1-0 after the first period thanks to a Jan Parcilis goal. Panacek assisted on the goal that came with 11 minutes, 22 seconds left in the first.
Tyson Liverance scored with 15:10 left in the second to make it 2-0. The Blaze, though, answered quickly.
Sean Meetsma found the back of the net 53 seconds later to cut the lead to 2-1.
Thomas Steven tied the game at 2 with 15:22 left in the final frame.
That kept the large home crowd on pins and needles until Panacek delivered in the final seconds.
Butte net minder Eric Ahlberg picked up the win between the pipes, winning a dual with Bellingham goalie Alexander Olson.
The Cobras will face the Spartans Friday and Saturday nights in Medford, Oregon. Game 3, if necessary, will be Sunday afternoon.
Butte is 34-18-2 after the two playoff wins. Southern Oregon (33-15-4) finished just ahead of the Cobras for second place in the WSHL Northwest Division standings and earned a first-round bye.
The Cobras won the regular-season series with the Spartans 4-2.