The St. Cloud Norsemen got on the board first Friday night at home but penalties ultimately sunk the Norsemen as Austin had ten power play chances to St. Cloud’s three, the Bruins converted four of those opportunities, and ultimately skated off with a 5-1 victory.
The first period saw pretty even, back-and-forth play that resulted in a scoreless 20 minutes but St. Cloud wasted no time in the second getting on the board. Austin attempted to exit the zone but Daniels Murnieks got a piece of the attempted clearance at the offensive right wing boards to slow the puck down and keep it in the zone before finishing a big check on his opposition. Duke Kiffin gathered it from the right point and threw it to Anthony Ruklic in the low slot. Ruklic caught it on his forehand with his back to the net and in one motion fired it on his backhand, elevating it over the right pad but under the blocker of Trent Wiemken just 52 seconds into the middle frame.
Unfortunately, penalties would catch up with the Norsemen, who took two to Austin’s one in the first period but six to the Bruins’ one in the second, resulting in five power play chances for the visitors. Exactly 2:00 into the second Matys Brassard one-timed a corner ice feed in the slot from the inside sliver of the left circle, Gavin Morrissey snapped home a wrister from the top of the left circle on a 5-on-3 at the 17:04 mark, and then 28 seconds later Brassard tapped in a rebound for his second goal of the period to give Austin a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
The man advantage also helped Austin keep momentum rolling in the third period as they were on the power play when an attempted clearance at St. Cloud’s blue line was knocked down by Jack Malinski who tracked down the puck. Through a partial screen Malinski snapped a shot from the top inside corner of the right circle 5:58 into the third. For the second time the Bruins came right back and scored on consecutive shifts as Matys and his twin brother Isaak Brassard connected to feed Jackson Luther a great backdoor pass and Norsemen goalie Ethan Dahlmeir could do nothing but watch the Columbia City, IN native pounce and bury it, chasing Dahlmeir 6:13 into the contest.
Will Ingemann came into the game in relief and kept the Bruins off the board for the final 13 minutes and change but the damage was done and Austin came away with the 5-1 victory and the 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five. The Norsemen will have their backs up against a wall tonight in a do-or-die game as a victory would push the series back to Austin on Sunday, while a loss would end their season and see Austin advance to the Robertson Cup next weekend.
Tickets for the game Saturday night at 7:00 at the MAC are available online at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com. During the game the Norsemen will be auctioning off the game-worn jersey of Blake Perbix, who last weekend in Austin set the franchise record for games played.
A Norsemen win would force a decisive Game 5 in Austin Sunday at 5:05 and that game can be viewed online at hockeytv.com.