AUSTIN, Minn. – For the first time since March, a meaningful hockey game took place at Riverside Arena in the form of Friday night’s All-Star Game. Nearly fifty players who survived the four-day Main Camp, battled it out in a simulated game vying for the Bruins final roster. Team Black defeated Team Gold in 60-minutes, 5-3. Starting goaltenders were Zach Hansen and Hudson Hodges for Team Black and Team Gold respectively.
Fireworks got started early in the game with the first of two fights coming in the first four minutes of play. Team Black’s Zack Conner duked it out with Team Gold’s Zach Barros. Shortly after, the goals came with Team Gold hopping out to a 1-0 lead thanks to a trio of returning Bruins including goal-scorer Camden Gallagher, as assists from Nate Solis and Carson Riddle. Gallagher’s goal would be the only lead for Team Gold of the night, and it didn’t last long as Team Black answered back with a vengeance less than two minutes later. Jake Jensen netted an unassisted tally to even things up at 1-1 and his goal would be the first of four in a row scored by Team Black.
In the second period, the next Team Black forward to find the twine was Jens Richards who gave his time the 2-1 lead. Richards, 17, is the younger brother of former Austin Bruin Jon Richards and cousin of Bruins 2020-21 draft pick Garrett Horsager who also played in Friday’s All-Star Game. Midway through the second, a goalie swap was initiated as Zach Foster replaced Hansen for Team Black while James Pietila took over for Hodges. Pietila was one of two players with the familiar namesake on the ice Friday as Adam Pietila, a forward also competed. The two are brothers and the cousin of recent departure Jed Pietila.
After the goalie change, Team Black got right back to work as the Bruins tender Sutter Muzatti found the back of the net with a little help from Nick Catalano and returning Bruin Connor Crawford. Now with the lead 3-1 in the second, Team Black scored their fourth unanswered goal when returner Cullen Rush rifled a shot shoulder high on netminder Pietila. After 60 minutes of play, Team Black held a commanding 4-1 lead over Team Gold heading into the locker-room.
That lead almost wasn’t enough as Team Gold came out regrouped in the third and put on the pressure. Austin Bruins tender and former Rochester Grizzlies forward Peyton Hart helped his Team Gold cut the lead in half with an unassisted tally that brought the score to 4-2. Later in the third, Team Gold scored one-minute and 57 seconds into a power-play to get back within one, 4-3. The power-play goal was orchestrated by a threesome of returning Bruins, all of whom notched their second point of the night. Nate Solis was credited with the goal, adding to his assist from earlier in the game, while Carson Riddle assisted for his second of the night, and Camden Gallagher recorded the secondary assist, his second point along with the game’s first goal. Now in a closer game at 4-3 in favor of Team Black, the pace picked up including the night’s second bout. Team Black’s Tyler Fittro threw down with Team Gold’s Nathaniel Albers. It was Team Black who came out on top, however, with a final insurance goal scored by Fittro to seal the victory. Helping on Fittro’s goal was Garrett Newcomer and Jake Jensen, who with a multiple-point night made five total scorers registering two points on the evening.
Much to fans delight, the Bruins held a 3-on-3 overtime period despite the final score in regulation not being a tie. Team Gold managed to score two in the extra period while Team Black was held off the board. The coaching staff and scouting department wasn’t done seeing their prospects quite yet, nor were they done exciting the crowd, as they let the teams compete in a three-round shootout. Once again, it was Team Gold who fared better after regulation winning the shootout, 2-0.
Up next for the Bruins, coaches and scouts will trim the roster down from the nearly 50 players who played on Friday night, to around 30. Those 30 will be invited to orientation camp and will be the names you’ll see competing in exhibition games and likely make up most of the Bruins starting roster on opening night. For the players who don’t make the Bruins roster for the preseason, many will find a home with Rochester Grizzlies of the North American 3 Hockey League. The North American Hockey League has announced the season will begin on October 9th, 2020 though it’s not certain if the Bruins will be home or away on that night, or who their opponent might be. The official NAHL schedule release is due out September 1, 2020, and can be found on the NAHL and Austin Bruins’ social media pages.