by John Peterson
For five returning Austin Bruins from last year’s team, the feeling Saturday night at the NAHL Showcase was familiar. For the rest of the roster, sweeping the NAHL Showcase was new, but equally enjoyable.
In a rematch of the Robertson Cup Finals, the Bruins (4-0-0) walloped the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (2-3-1) 9-4 behind goals from nine different skaters at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN. For the second straight year, Austin went undefeated at the annual event, sharing this year’s Showcase title with Topeka, who also leaves with an unblemished record.
Austin dominated the first period, peppering Fairbanks goaltender Drew Michals (Boston, MA) with 19 shots, but trailed 2-1 going into the locker room. The Ice Dogs started the scoring at 8:48, when Ethan Somoza (Simi Valley, CA – Bemidji State) snapped a shot over the shoulder of Bruins goalie Jake Kielly (Eden Prairie, MN).
The Bruins tied the game when Michals fumbled a shot from Hugo Gallet (Amiens, France), and Zach Kennedy (Eagle River, WI) put away the backhand. Adam Anderson (Lino Lakes, MN) capitalized on a long Fairbanks shift in the Bruins zone when he deflected a point shot into the top shelf to give the Ice Dogs a 2-1 lead.
Chandler Madry (Denver, CO) jammed in a loose puck on the power-play to add to the Ice Dogs lead, but then the Bruins’ onslaught started. Josh Wilkins (Cary, NC) tallied his first career goal to start the momentum swing. Then it was William Feeney (Foxboro, MA), who scored his second goal in as many games from the left point.
Austin gained the lead on Brian Bachnak’s (Riverview, MI) third of the Showcase, a rebound that he slid through the five-hole of Michals from the slot. Pat Lauderdale (Eden Prairie, MN) got into the act, scoring his first career goal to make it 5-3, and Alex Pettersson (Ockero, Sweden) added a power-play goal late to finish out the scoring in the second period.
The Bruins finished off the Ice Dogs with three more goals in the third against backup goalie Patrick Munson (Hugo, MN). Landen Letwin (Greenville, WI) followed up his shot and put away the rebound to make it 7-3 six minutes into the final period. Then Nico Sturm (Augsburg, Germany) lit the lamp for the eighth Bruins goal.
Fairbanks got one more goal from veteran Lonnie Clary (Riverside, CA), but Jakob Kullberg (Kallerud, Sweden) scored an empty-net goal to officially put the stamp on the win. Kielly stopped 18 shots for his second career win.
Next weekend, the Bruins head west to start the regular season schedule, with a Friday night game against Minot and a Saturday tilt in Bismarck in the first meeting since last year’s Central Division Finals. Both games can be seen on fasthockey.com.