BLAINE, Minn. – Andy Willis’ heroics with only nine seconds to go in overtime propels the Bruins to a 4-3 win over Maryland, capping off a successful NAHL Showcase.
The first period started physically, and that theme continued throughout the game between the Bruins and Black Bears. Just over four minutes into the first period, Bruins defenseman Devon Fields lined up his man and connected, being ejected for head-butting with contact to the head. The mainstay on the Bruins blue-line was removed for the remainder of the game and left his teammates to fight off an extended power-play.
During the power-play, the Black Bears broke the scoreless tie when Lukas Ljungblom rifled a shot over Austin netminder Kyle McClellan’s shoulder. The hitting and strong physical play continued throughout the first period, but neither team netted a goal for the rest of the first twenty minutes.
The middle frame has proven to be the most successful time for the Bruins this season, including the preseason, and that sentiment carried through as they evened the score on their own power-play. With the puck laying in the blue, just out of the reach of Black Bears goalie David Tomeo, it was jabbed at by Joe Winkelmann, crossing the goal line, and giving the Bruins the game-tying goal. With the score knotted at 1-1, it was Dante Sheriff who fired a wrister that beat Tomeo through the five-hole and gave the Bruins the lead, 2-1. Later in the second, the Black Bears would even the score with a late goal off the stick of Jack Rudin.
With the game tied 2-2 after two periods, each team netted a goal in the third period. Dante Sheriff added his second of the day with a snipe in the top corner giving the Bruins the 3-2 lead, but it only lasted moments before Maryland pulled back into a tie at 3-3.
Much like Thursday and Friday, the Bruins would head to overtime against a Showcase opponent, but unlike those game, they wouldn’t need a shootout to decide a winner. With only nine seconds left to go in the extra period, Andy Willis hopped on a loose puck in the paint and sealed the victory for the Bruins, 4-3. The Bruins finished the NAHL Showcase with a 3-0-1 record, securing seven out of a possible eight standings points. Austin sits atop the Central Divison through the first weekend of play.
The black and gold are back in action at the end of the week with back-to-back games against the Bismarck Bobcats at Riverside Arena. The first regular season games of the year in front of a full-house home crowd. Tickets will be available at all the Bruins partners including Jim’s Marketplace, Hy-Vee, Games People Play, and Holiday Inn and Austin Conference Center.