AUSTIN, MN – After a shaky performance on Friday night in Brookings that saw their winning streak come to an end, the Bruins responded on Saturday at home with a 5-2 win over the Blizzard. The top line of Evan Cholak, Travis Kothenbeutel, and Sviataslau Kuchynski combined for nine points and contributed to four of the five goals to lead the way to victory.
The opening period was scoreless until the 15:18 mark when the Bruins power play made quick work of their first chance of the game. Kuchynski won a faceoff back to Kothenbeutel who fired a pass across to Dan Petrick at the left-wing circle. Petrick ripped a shot through a Kuchynski screen for a 1-0 Austin lead. The Bruins outshot Brookings 16-9 in the first and would gain a two-man advantage when Blizzard forward Josh Boyer committed an elbowing penalty as the period ended.
The Bruins used the 5-on-3 to quickly double their lead as Dante Zapata snapped a 20 game goal-drought by sliding a puck under Blizzard goalie Benjamin Beck from beside the goal just 50 seconds into the period. Kothenbeutel and Petrick assisted. The score remained 2-0 until the 15:15 mark when Brookings got on the board with a rebound goal from Chase Brand. Bruins netminder Alex Schilling made a key save moments later when Tyler Hinterser broke through the Bruins defense and skated in alone. The key goal of the game came at 16:58 – Evan Cholak restoring the two-goal lead by knocking a bouncing puck from a severe angle past Beck. Just 35 seconds later, Cholak scored again, this time deflecting in a high-slot shot from Kuchynski. Kuchynski and Kothenbeutel assisted on both goals and the Bruins led 4-1 heading to the third.
Brookings would only total five third period shots as the Bruins locked it down defensively, but Connor Koviak made the game slightly more interesting with a power play goal at 17:26. An empty net goal by Jaden Shields 33 seconds later, however, would seal the game.
Schilling made 20 saves for the win while Beck stopped 23 of 27 before being pulled in favor or Jake Sibell following the fourth goal. Sibell stopped all 7 shots he faced in relief. The big night for Travis Kothenbeutel moved him into 2nd all-time in Bruins career points (110) and assists (69). He’s also now tied for the NAHL points lead (31). The Bruins will enter the final weekend before the holiday break in first place and get set for four consecutive games against the Minnesota Wilderness beginning Friday at Riverside Arena with the annual Teddy Bear Toss, sponsored by Power96 Radio. Game time is 7:05.