by John Peterson
One year ago, the Austin Bruins swept through the NAHL Showcase with a 4-0 record to start their season. That season turned out pretty good for the black and gold. Wednesday, the Bruins (1-0-0) opened the 2014-15 campaign with a 5-2 win over the Michigan Warriors (0-1-0) in the first game of the 12th Annual Showcase at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN.
The Bruins and Warriors struggled to generate any scoring chances in the early going, but as the first period played out, both goaltenders were called upon to make some tricky saves to keep the game scoreless. Rookie Austin goaltender Zach Driscoll (Apple Valley, MN – St. Cloud State) stopped all nine Warriors shots in the first period of his junior career between the pipes.
Midway through the second period, Michigan killed off a penalty and scored seconds later when Minnesota native Derek Frentz (N. Mankato, MN) hopped out of the penalty box, picked off a Bruins pass, and beat Driscoll on the glove side. 38 seconds later, rookie Luke Forfar (Darien, IL) tied the game with his first career goal on a wrist shot from the slot that made it through a screen and past Warriors goalie Trevor Gorsuch (St. Charles, MO). Late in the frame, Bruins draft pick J.C. Maclean (Basking Ridge, NJ) jammed home a rebound to give Austin its first lead of the season at 17:42. The Bruins doubled up the Warriors in shots 14-7 in the second period and led 2-1 going into the third.
40 seconds into the final period, rookie forward Zach Kennedy (Eagle River, WI) poked his first career goal past Gorsuch on a scramble in front to make it 3-1. Michigan responded with a goal at 6:01 from Nick Mosher (Cumming, GA) that trickled through Driscoll’s five-hole. The Warriors squandered a chance to tie the game with just under five minutes left, when Zed Dietrich (Waukesha, WI) sailed a penalty shot attempt wide. On a late power-play, veteran Brian Bachnak (Riverview, MI) capitalized on a rebound to add insurance to the Bruins lead, and rookie Jakob Kullberg (Killerud, Sweden) found an empty net in the final minute to seal the 5-2 win.
Driscoll turned away 24 of the 26 Warriors shots for his first career win, while the four-year veteran, Gorsuch stopped 28 of 33 Austin shots in the loss.
Thursday morning, the Bruins take on the Keystone Ice Miners (formerly Port Huron Fighting Falcons) at 10:30am at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine. Catch the action live on FastHockey.com, with pregame coverage starting at 10:20.