The St. Cloud Norsemen won the Central Division final series with 3-2 victory in game four on the road in Aberdeen, and advance to the North American Hockey League Robertson Cup Championship in Blaine, MN.
The Norsemen will represent the Central, alongside the NAHL’s other three division champions (Midwest: Anchorage, East: New Jersey, South: New Mexico).
Forward and Alaska-Anchorage commit Brandon Lajoie fired home the game-winning goal with 5:26 remaining to give the Norsemen a lead they wouldn’t surrender. First team All-NAHL and All-Central defenseman Evan Murr (Minnesota State-Mankato) scored 1:39 prior to Lajoie’s tally, using the back-to-back goals to send St. Cloud from trailing 2-1, to winning 3-2.
Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey, Vermont commit Max Strand scored with 39 seconds remaining in the first to put the Norsemen on the board and tie the game 1-1. Aberdeen took a 2-1 lead early in the third before St. Cloud fired home the back-to-back goals that proved to be series-clinching.
Strand’s goal was assisted by Murr and league MVP Ryan O’Neill (Univ. St. Thomas). Murr’s goal was assisted by Blake Mesenburg (Miami University) and Strand. Gramm McCormack and Peyton Hanson had helpers on Lajoie’s game-winner.
Goaltender Tomas Bolo made 24 saves, earning his 35th win of the season, extending his franchise all-time wins record. The Norsemen outshot Aberdeen 52-26.
St. Cloud won a triple overtime marathon game on Friday to take game three and set up the potential clinching game on Saturday. Defenseman Broten Sabo scored his team-best fourth goal of the postseason at 14:32 of the third overtime period to end the game, 3-2. 2001-born forwards Jackson Hughes and Gramm McCormack both scored their first of the playoffs, Hughes 2:50 into the first, and McCormack, shorthanded, at 3:33 of the second. Bolo made 44 saves as the Norsemen held Aberdeen to 46 shots, outshooting the Wings 70-46.
This marks the second Central Division playoff championship in franchise history, dating back to the 2007-08 season when the team, then known as the Alexandria Blizzard, upended the Springfield Jr. Blues to advance to the Robertson Cup.
St. Cloud’s record (regular season + playoffs) now stands at 47-18-3-1 overall.
The Robertson Cup Championship is held in Blaine, MN at Fogerty Arena, May 20-24. The four division champions are seeded 1-4 based upon their finish in the NAHL regular-season standings. The semifinal series will be 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3, and will be a best-of-three series. The semifinal winners will play in the Robertson Cup Championship game, a single-game winner-take-all event, for the NAHL title.
Full details about the Robertson Cup, including schedule, hotel & ticket info, is at NAHL.com/robertson-cup
Fans unable to travel to the games can watch live with a subscription at HockeyTV.com
The Norsemen Playoffs are presented by Premier Real Estate Services.