Returning winger Kade Peterson had a whale of a night scoring two goals and then sealing the win in a shootout to give the St. Cloud Norsemen a 4-3 victory over the Austin Bruins and send the home opener crowd out the doors happy.
St. Cloud showed resilience in the contest as they twice erased two-goal deficits. Walter Zacher got the Bruins on the board exactly 15 minutes into the contest and then Jackson Luther lit the lamp 13 seconds later to stun the Pack the MAC crowd. But the Norsemen dug in as Isaak Brassard’s interference penalty proved costly late in the first. On the man advantage St. Cloud’s Ryan Cutler threw himself into the left wing boards to seal the gap and then he found Duke Kiffin streaking down Broadway. Kiffin took the attention of several Austin players before sliding it to the right circle dot where Kade Peterson teed up a one-timer that beat Bruins’ goalie Ethan Robertson short side at the 17:44 mark of the first. St. Cloud outshot Austin 11-8 in the first frame.
Jack Malinski gave the Bruins a two-goal lead early in the second on a shorthanded tally but the Norsemen again wouldn’t relinquish as their captain Nik Hong started and ended their next goal. Hong rushed the offensive zone from blue line to blue line through the right-wing side but couldn’t split the D and was displaced from the puck; Marc Fletemeyer picked up the loose puck in the right-wing corner and shoveled it to Kiffin who was pinching on the inside corner of the right-wing circle. Kiffin immediately snapped a shot that Hong tipped past Robertson to make it a 3-2 affair going into the third with St. Cloud doubling up the shots on goal over Austin in the frame 14-7.
The third saw eight penalties called and 27 shots on goal as both netminders played fantastic to keep their squads in a tight contest. The Norsemen needed to pull their net late in regulation but won the gamble as again Kiffin factored in making a cross ice blue line to blue line pass to Hong who stayed at neutral ice and made a handoff to Peterson who was picking up speed. Peterson skated from left to center and in the slot threw it to Blake Perbix who gave a give-and-go pass right back to Peterson, who tipped it over the short side shoulder of Robertson with 1:37 left in regulation. The Norsemen nipped the Bruins in the shots on goal for the third 14-13.
St. Cloud again battled adversity, killing off the last minute and a half of regulation and first 31 seconds of overtime shorthanded, as well as the last 7.6 seconds of the extra frame but neither team could break the deadlock. Norsemen goalie Tomáš Boľo wouldn’t be solved on either shootout attempt he saw, stopping the first with a left pad save and positioning himself to watch the second whistle wide. St. Cloud converted both attempts as Perbix stopped on a dime at the top of the crease and while losing his balance finished it off on the forehand far side. Then Kade Peterson was afforded the chance to put the final nail in the coffin and delivered, leaving the puck on the ice and sneaking one five-hole on the backhand on Robertson to walk it off and hand the Austin squad their first loss of the 2022-23 season.
The Norsemen improve to 3-1-1 on the campaign and will complete the back end of the home-and-home with the Bruins in Austin Saturday night with the puck drop at 7:05 from Riverside Arena. Just like all NAHL contests the game can be seen and heard online at www.hockeytv.com.
St. Cloud is back at home again next weekend, hosting the Aberdeen Wings Friday, September 30th and Saturday, October 1st. Get your tickets online at www.tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.