AUSTIN, MN – The Bruins never trailed on Friday night at Riverside Arena, but they needed all five goals they could get to top the Brookings Blizzard by a final score of 5-4. Dan Petrick led the way with two power play tallies while Travis Kothenbeutel and Alex Mella both put up key points in their respective returns to the lineup.
Petrick opened the scoring at 9:20 of the first when Evan Cholak found him with a back door pass on the power play. While the Bruins worked on another man-advantage five minutes later, Brookings scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game. Josh Boyer and Vince Marino worked a two-on-one that resulted in a Boyer tap-in, his league-leading fifth shorthanded goal of the season. At 16:21 of the period, the Bruins regained their lead when Justin Brandt set up Che Landikusic for his first NAHL goal. Valdemar Ahlberg was credited with a secondary helper. The Bruins led 2-1 after one period.
The second period saw five goals in total. Brookings got even again, scoring on a 5 on 3 at 3:41 with a Max Sasson goal. Petrick then struck again at 9:18, finding the puck in a scramble behind Brookings goaltender Adam Brizgala. At 13:23, the Bruins opened a two goal lead thanks to a perfect shot from Xander Lamppa just under the crossbar. Brookings battled back with two goals from Derek Hammer to tie things at four before the break. The second goal was on the power play and came with just 15 seconds remaining.
At 6:08 of the third, Jimmy Elser interfered with Bruins goaltender Alex Schilling, and the Bruins went to work with a sixth attacker. Travis Kothenbeutel and Evan Cholak got a puck into the Blizzard crease for Mella to tap home for the game-winner. Kothenbeutel finished the game with three assists and has a league-leading 35. Schilling, in relief of a struggling Mads Sogaard stopped four third period shots to earn his 17th win. Brizgala stopped 26 of 31 in the loss.
The Bruins magic number to clinch a playoff spot fell to nine and they opened up a five point gap for first round home-ice as a result of Minot’s win over the Minnesota Wilderness. The Bruins and Blizzard play their 12th and final head-to-head meeting of the regular season on Saturday night at 7:05 at Riverside Arena.