by John Peterson
Three days into the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN and the young Austin Bruins (3-0-0) have made a statement. They have conquered the North Division. Wednesday, the Bruins beat Michigan 5-2, followed by a 4-0 whitewash of Keystone Thursday. Friday night, Austin thumped the Johnstown Tomahawks (1-3-0) 8-2 to stay unbeaten heading into the event’s finale at the Schwan Super Rink.
It seemed like everything the Bruins put towards the net went in, and it started early. Jakob Kullberg (Kallerud, Sweden) deflected a Landen Letwin (Greenville, WI) shot for the first goal of the game 7:06 into the opening period. Then it was Letwin’s turn to pocket his first career goal on a wrist shot from the point that had eyes, missing several bodies in front of Johnstown starting goalie Brett Young (Livonia, MI).
Young was pulled with 7:40 left in the first after Luke Dietsch (St. Paul, MN) made it 3-0 with his first score of the year. The Tomahawks answered on a two-man advantage when Trevor Recktenwald (Venetia, PA) backhanded a loose puck past a sprawling Zach Driscoll (Apple Valley, MN – St. Cloud State). Later in the Austin penalty kill, Nico Sturm (Augsburg, Germany) sprung free on a breakaway and beat backup goalie Jacob Gwillim (Swartz Creek, MI) to give the Bruins a 4-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
Less than three minutes into the second, Trevor Boyd (Muskegon, MI) snapped a shot by Gwillim to open the lead to 5-1. Boyd started last season in Austin and played 14 games, before winding up in a Soo Eagles uniform the rest of the year. Dietsch added a second goal on the power-play about three minutes later, thanks to a superb backdoor pass from Jake Arroyo (Bolingbrook, IL).
Later J.C. Maclean (Basking Ridge, NJ) scored his second of the Showcase to bring the score to 7-1. Defenseman William Feeney (Foxboro, MA) tallied the eighth Bruins goal on a blast from the point as 13 Austin skaters found the scoresheet in the victory. Joe Drabin (Rochester, NY) notched the only other Tomahawks goal late in the second period.
The 8-2 score stood all the way to the finish, with no scoring in the third. Austin outshot Johnstown 35-17, as Driscoll stopped 15 shots for his second career win. Gwillim made 23 saves on 28 shots after entering the game, and the Bruins finished with 35 total shots on goal.
Saturday night, Austin goes for a second straight Showcase sweep, and will face the Fairbanks Ice Dogs at 7:15pm in a rematch of the Robertson Cup Finals from last May. It will be their only meeting this year, unless the two teams cross paths again in the playoffs. Catch all the action on fasthockey.com with coverage starting at 7:05.