The St. Cloud Norsemen experienced both ends of the spectrum when it came to emotions Friday night in Aberdeen. They fell to the Wings 9-1 at the Odde Ice but about three hours away at the VFW Sports Center the Bismarck Bobcats defeated the North Iowa Bulls 3-2 in regulation, which clinched a 2023 Robertson Cup Playoffs spot for the Norsemen.
In the lone period that the Norsemen outshot the Wings it was still Aberdeen finding the back of the net. Owen Dubois scored about halfway through the first period on a third chance for the Wings in the lone goal of the frame even with St. Cloud outshooting their opponent 10-8. The shots on goal disparity swung vastly in Aberdeen’s favor in the second period 18-5 and they scored twice, once more even strength and then once on the power play, to make it 3-0 headed into the third.
Early in the final period, just after a St. Cloud Rambow Power Play had expired, Duke Kiffin jumped an attempted Aberdeen pass at neutral ice and turned the interception into a scoring chance. He gained the zone from the right side and on a 2-on-1 sauced a pass to Hunter Hanson who cut in on a partial breakaway. Wings goalie Cole Moore made the save but it left a rebound in front of him that Kiffin tried to put home but was denied. Kiffin and Jack Wandmacher each poked away at it until the puck squirted free to Hanson who slammed it into a yawning net to breathe life into the Norsemen and cut the lead to 3-1.
Unfortunately, Aberdeen scored just over a minute later to steal the momentum back. The Wings took a penalty halfway through the third and the Norsemen rolled the dice and pulled their goalie to give them a two-man advantage but Aberdeen in essence iced the game when Zachary Reim scored a shorthanded, empty net goal from the Wings’ defensive zone to make it a 5-1 score. From there Aberdeen poured it on with the result already in hand as they scored four more times in the next 6:04 and came away with the 9-1 victory.
Simultaneously while that game was going on, Attila Lappai scored with 3:56 remaining in the game for the Bismarck Bobcats as they defeated the North Iowa Bulls 3-2 in regulation. With North Iowa failing to gain any points they and Bismarck both cannot catch St. Cloud and that punched the postseason ticket for the Norsemen. While both North Iowa and Bismarck can catch Minot in points, the Minotauros hold the tiebreaker over both so Minot has also clinched a playoff spot as well.
The Norsemen will play their last game of the regular season in Aberdeen Saturday night with the puck drop at 7:15. A win of any kind would wrap up the #2 seed in the Central and a regulation victory would simultaneously eliminate Aberdeen. Tune in to watch it online at www.hockeytv.com.
And be sure to stay tuned to www.stcloudnorsemen.com as we will break down all the possible scenarios for how each remaining team can claim the last playoff spot in the Central Division and where different teams will finish in the standings based on various results from Saturday’s games.
(Featured Image Photo Credits: Laurie Stroh @DeenBoysPhotos)