The St. Cloud Norsemen were unable to score a power play goal in their three-game sweep of the Aberdeen Wings in Round 1 of the Robertson Cup Playoffs but scored two on the man advantage in Austin, MN Friday night, another goal seconds after a power play expired, and won in overtime 4-3 to take Game #1 in the best-of-five series.
The Norsemen dug themselves a hole as they found themselves trailing 1-0 less than two minutes into the game. At the right side of the centerline Nate Looft gloved down a puck St. Cloud had chipped out to neutral ice and made a pass from right to left and to the Norsemen blueline. Ocean Wallace gained the zone and had it poked from his possession but it went straight to Sam Christiano, who took a sharp-angled seeing-eye shot that snuck under the crossbar 1:59 into the contest. Austin outshot St. Cloud 8-7 in the opening twenty minutes and had the only power play chance of the period, taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
In the second the Norsemen outchanced the Bruins with a 14-9 shots on goal advantage and got on the board seconds after their first power play chance expired. Austin attempted to clear their defensive zone but Severi Sulonen threw his body into the puck and knocked it down, keeping the offensive third. He cut to the right, around one defenseman, and on his backhand threw a puck into the slot that just escaped the reach of several Bruins players. Hunter Hanson slid the puck over on his backhand and Anthony Ruklic found it on the backdoor, quickly going backhand-forehand and scoring at the 3:32 mark.
Minutes later the Norsemen would get another power play chance and this time they’d convert quickly. After winning an offensive zone faceoff the puck went into the left corner and Tyler Dysart helped tie up his opposition and prevent a clearance before Blake Perbix poked it free to Broten Sabo at the left point. Sabo had a ton of open ice in front of him and he attacked the net, drawing in Bruins players before dishing off to Daniels Murnieks at the right circle. Murnieks buried his team leading third playoff goal just 17 seconds into the power play top left corner at 5:02 of the second.
Austin would respond with a power play goal of their own as Gavin Morrissey collected a rebound from a Josh Giulani shot to the right of the net on the goal line and fed a pass through a sea of traffic to Walter Zacher at the left circle. Zacher buried a shot at the far side of the net at the 7:03 mark of the second. Just over four minutes later the Bruins scored in transition as Isaak Brassard tossed the puck out front of the crease to his twin brother Matys Brassard who tapped it home 11:19 into the second.
The Norsemen would once again strike on the power play as halfway through their third man advantage of the middle frame Murnieks found himself on the right side with the puck and went behind his back to drop a pass to Sabo. Sabo slid the puck to Andrew Clarke at the left circle and Clarke one-timed the shot from one knee to score 13:51 into the second to tie the score at 3-3. That would cap off the scoring for the second and neither team would be able to find the scoresheet in the third period with the two teams trading a power play chance each in the last stanza of regulation. Austin led the shots on goal department in the third 9-6 and we’d go to overtime looking for a winner.
In the extra session St. Cloud had the only three shots on goal and got the game winner when a puck was rimmed around behind the Norsemen net and Ruklic raced to it on the right side boards, chipping it ahead to Hanson. Hanson raced up the right side and dropped it back to Ruklic who fired from the inside sliver of the right circle, depositing the puck at the same spot Murnieks had scored, top left corner over Trent Wiemken’s blocker 2:29 into the extra frame.
For the contest St. Cloud outshot Austin 30-26 and went 2 for 4 on the man advantage while the Bruins were 1 for 3 on the power play. Ethan Dahlmeir picked up the win for St. Cloud, improving his postseason record to 4-0. The two teams will battle again Saturday night at Riverside Arena in Austin with the puck dropping at 7:05. The game can be found online at hockeytv.com.
Game 3 will be back at the MAC in St. Cloud on Friday, May 12th and tickets are available online at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.