The St. Cloud Norsemen faced the Aberdeen Wings last weekend, a team they were winless against in the regular season, in hostile territory, and came away with two wins at the Odde Ice Arena. Now they’re trying to make it three straight with Game 3 back in Minnesota, and move on to Round 2 of the NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs.
Up two games to none, St. Cloud is excited about their position, but they also know there are some areas of the game they can improve on. “Let’s face it, we got good results. Some good things happened, we obviously did some good things, but we definitely have some areas that we can clean up and get better at for sure,” warns St. Cloud Norsemen Head Coach Corey Millen. “We addressed those situations and we want to continue to get better and that’s the goal. Obviously Ethan (Dahlmeir) played a solid weekend, we hope that continues, it’s gonna have to continue and we’re gonna have to get better.”
The Norsemen have a luxury most teams in the NAHL playoffs don’t, and that’s depth in between the pipes. Unless an injury were to occur, we expect to see Cole Moore in between the pipes for Aberdeen for their whole playoff run. But in addition to Dahlmeir, whose numbers were fantastic through two games (2-0 record, 50 saves on 51 shots, 0.50 goals against average, .980 save percentage, and a shutout), they could also turn to veteran Tomáš Boľo, who played all of the postseason for the Norsemen last season when they got to the Robertson Cup in Blaine, MN, or Will Ingemann, who was the Star Tribune’s Metro Player of the Year this season.
“We believe in all three of our guys; all three are good goalies, all three are very capable. Certainly not a bad thing, that’s for sure,” Millen admits. “I do think that Ethan has put himself in a position where I hope he can take the ball and wants to continue to run with it. That’s how hockey kinda is. But the other guys have to be ready at all times, that’s the way it is.”
Aberdeen is down to their last chance in the best-of-five series as the Wings know if they are defeated by the Norsemen one more time, their season is over. “I expect them to give big pushback, I don’t think that’s any big secret,” says Millen. “We expect to see their best and we’ve got to come in and be prepared to come and give our best.”
What made the weekend sweep in Aberdeen even more impressive is how riddled with injuries the Norsemen have been down the stretch, particularly at forward and specifically center. But with the Norsemen getting a couple forwards back in the lineup last weekend from injury and illness, St. Cloud built off that momentum and used it to come away with victories in both games.
Millen recognizes that while the attitude and determination of the guys last weekend was great, at this point in the season the Norsemen don’t have any other options but to give it their all. “We have no choice, it’s where we’re at. We are what we are and we have what we have,” MIllen rationalizes. “Let’s face it; we’ve talked a lot about it and so, yes, guys are gonna have to be ready to play different positions and that probably is from minute to minute and period to period. So yeah, we definitely have to deal with what we have and right now that’s what the guys are doing and hopefully we continue to have success. Then maybe we get some time (off), guys here and there might get a little bit healthier.”
The Norsemen host Aberdeen Friday night at 7:15 with tickets available online at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com. And St. Cloud’s Presenting Playoff Partners Premier Real Estate Services, St. Cloud Subaru, and H.R. Pesty’s are giving away long-sleeve Norsemen shirts to the first 100 adults with paid admission Friday night.
Should Aberdeen win Friday and force a Game 4, that would take place Saturday night at 7:00 and tickets can also be purchased for that game at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.