The St. Cloud Norsemen get an opportunity to rest up a little this week thanks to them taking care of the Aberdeen Wings in the minimum three games possible in the best-of-five series. Sure, they’re still skating and working hard, but Monday was a practice at the MAC instead of what could have been a travel day back to Aberdeen, SD, in advance of a Game 5 which would have taken place Monday night.
St. Cloud Norsemen Assistant Coach Brock Kautz acknowledges that with the injury bug biting the team down the stretch, not having to play Saturday or Monday is going to help the team out going into their Round 2 matchup with Austin. “It probably helped out just to have that extra day off. I think the big thing was making sure we didn’t have to go back to Aberdeen, that was our goal,” Kautz confides. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t have to travel back there. Maybe that extra day off was good for some guys to rest, obviously it’s no secret that we’re banged up, so it was probably a good thing.”
As tight as some of the races for NAHL playoff spots were, the postseason has not produced much drama outside of one series in the South Division. While every first round series except for St. Cloud vs. Aberdeen had a game reach overtime, seven of the eight series ended in a three games to none sweep. (The lone exception being Shreveport vs. Lone Star which saw Game 1 reach quadruple overtime, three of the four games go to OT, and the only game decided in regulation end 2-0. That series wraps up tonight in North Richland Hills, TX, and you can watch it online at hockeytv.com.)
Kautz admits he was not expecting as many series to wrap up as quickly as they did in the 2023 Robertson Cup Playoffs. “Yeah, that is kinda surprising. I think it’s tough to do (sweep) in any sport. Obviously I think it probably says some stuff about the teams that won those games and their ability to put a good stretch of hockey together,” concludes Kautz. “I would assume this next round is going to be pretty tough for everybody and I know it’s going to be very difficult for us, but we’re excited for the challenge and the opportunity.”
That challenge and opportunity begin this Friday as Round 2 gets underway at Riverside Arena in Austin, MN with the Norsemen battling the Austin Bruins. Games 1 and 2 are Friday and Saturday with the puck drop slated for 7:05 each night. You can watch those games online at hockeytv.com.
The next home game for St. Cloud will be Friday, March 12th at 7:00. If Game 4 is necessary that contest will get underway 24 hours later at 7:00 on Saturday, March 13th. Tickets can be purchased online at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.