Saturday night’s Norsemen game against the Aberdeen Wings was similar to Friday night’s game as St. Cloud outshot their opponent for the second night in a row but still ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard. They did pick up a point Saturday for their effort, but Aberdeen once again picked up the win, 2-1 in overtime, and prevented the Norsemen from clinching a playoff spot.
Neither team could put anything up on the scoresheet in the first period, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort on St. Cloud’s part. The Norsemen outshot the Wings 16-3 and it looked like St. Cloud struck first two and a half minutes into the game but the celebration was premature as the puck never crossed the line. All 19 shots in the first period were even strength as no penalties were called in the opening 20 minutes.
Early in the second period Aberdeen was able to establish the zone and the puck was banked off the left wing boards to defenseman Owen Benoit, who intentionally missed the goal and fed the puck behind the net via the short side. Dylan Wegner circled the net and came back around from St. Cloud goalie Tomáš Boľo’s right. Wegner’s wraparound attempt kicked off a Norsemen skate and bounced right to Roope Tuomioksa on the far side and Tuomioksa lifted it on his backhand to take the 1-0 lead 3:05 into the second. The middle frame was the only period where Aberdeen had an advantage in shots on goal by the slimmest of margins, 9-8. The two teams traded penalties as both squads were called for three each, including 1:42 of St. Cloud being down 5-on-3, but the Norsemen and Wings were able to kill off all the power play opportunities.
Aberdeen took a penalty with no time left in the second period and the Norsemen Rambow Power Play that started the third period converted to tie the game. Daniels Murnieks won an offensive zone faceoff cleanly back to defenseman Broten Sabo who began playing pitch-and-catch with Kade Peterson. Sabo was battling off an opponent from the left wing boards but won the matchup and hit Tyler Dysart atop the umbrella power play setup in the middle of the ice. Dysart slid the puck to Peterson at the right circle and Peterson fed Blake Perbix in tight at the backdoor. Perbix dropped to one knee and one-timed the puck past Cole Moore, low blocker side. The goal 53 seconds into the third was the only of the period but both teams traded one man advantage chance in the frame. St. Cloud peppered Moore, outshooting Aberdeen 16-6 in the third.
Around two minutes into overtime Aberdeen’s Jordan Ronn gained the offensive zone and dropped the puck to Nick Justice. Justice lost the puck but a well-timed stick lift allowed him to strip the puck back and feed it to Ronn who was streaking towards the net. Ronn was able to slip the puck through Boľo’s five-hole 2:04 into the extra frame. It was the lone shot on goal for either team and despite the Norsemen more than doubling the Wings’ shots on goal, ending the game up 40-19, Aberdeen came away with two points, the victory, and the sweep.
In other NAHL Central Division action on Saturday Bismarck was seven seconds away from defeating North Iowa in regulation, which would have knocked St. Cloud’s magic number down to one point to clinch a playoff spot. But a late goal sent that game to overtime where Bismarck eventually prevailed 5-4. A combination of that result and Minot defeating Austin 3-0 is keeping St. Cloud’s playoff magic number at 2 points.
The Norsemen will end the regular season with a pair of games on the road in Aberdeen. A win in either game would not only clinch a playoff spot but would wrap up the #2 seed and give St. Cloud home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Both games on Friday, April 14th and Saturday, April 15th will see the puck drop at 7:15 and can be watched online at hockeytv.com.
Stay tuned during the week as we’ll have an article going over all the possible clinching scenarios for the various teams in the Central Division that will hopefully shed some light on potential playoff dates, opponents and locations. To keep up to date, follow the St. Cloud Norsemen social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and you can find all your Norsemen news at stcloudnorsemen.com.