by John Peterson
In a back-and-forth game featuring five lead changes, the Austin Bruins (27-11-1) edged the Brookings Blizzard (11-23-7) 5-4 Friday in front of a packed house at the Larson Ice Center in Brookings.
An early defensive lapse by the Bruins allowed Brookings forward Russ Jordan (Aurora, IL) a clear lane to the net, as he slid the puck through the five-hole of Austin goalie Dillon Kelley (Petoskey, MI) to give the Blizzard a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes. The Bruins tied the game when Guillaume Leclerc’s (Franois, France) sharp-angle shot was kicked out front by Blizzard goaltender Connor Girard (Edina, MN), and the rebound was backhanded in by Lucas Kohls (Forest Lake, MN). Austin took its first lead less than a minute later, when Jake Arroyo’s (Bolingbrook, IL) shot from the point was deflected into the net in front by Luke Dietsch (St. Paul, MN).
Brookings tied the game early in the second period on a three-on-one finished off by Victor Munter (Sundsvall, Sweden), and the Blizzard then took its second lead when a Jordan takeaway in the Bruins’ corner and ensuing centering feed lead to a Jared Goudreau (Tampa, FL) tap-in. In the final five minutes of the frame, Bruins rookie Niko Hildenbrand (Vacaville, CA) threw a puck towards the front that ricocheted off of a body and bounced onto the stick of Trey Dodd (St. Louis, MO). Dodd’s wrist shot from the slot tied the game at 3-3 going into the second intermission.
Dodd put the Bruins in front 4-3 with his second goal early in the third period. He intercepted a clearing attempt at the Blizzard blue line and fired a laser over the left shoulder of Girard into the top corner. Brookings tied the game at 4-4 right as a penalty to Conrad Sampair (White Bear Lake, MN) had expired. Sampair came out of the box and snuck behind the Bruins defense, while the Blizzard defenseman stretched the pass ahead for him. The play was offside at the Bruins line by a full stride, but went uncalled, as Sampair skated in on a breakaway and scored. Austin received some hockey karma late, scoring on a power-play when Dietsch deflected in an Alex Pettersson (Ockero, Sweden) shot from the point for his second of the game. Kelley robbed a great scoring chance in the final seconds with a sensational glove save to preserve the 5-4 win. He stopped 25 Blizzard shots for his second straight victory.
The final regular season game between the Bruins and Blizzard will be Saturday night in Austin at 7:05pm. It will be Bruiser’s Mascot Party at Riverside Arena, and fans will be able to take in all the action while celebrating with Bruiser and his mascot buddies. The game will also be aired on 1480AM KAUS and fasthockey.com.