AUSTIN, MN – Entering the third period with a one-goal lead, the Bruins scored four times in the game’s final stanza on their way to a 6-3 home win over the Bismarck Bobcats on Friday night. With the win, the Bruins need just one point on Saturday night to clinch home ice advantage in their first round playoff series with the Minnesota Wilderness.
It appeared as if the opening period would be scoreless until in the final minute, the Bruins struck. Dante Sheriff came up with a Bismarck turnover down below the Bobcat goal line and patiently stickhandled his way to the left of goaltender John Roberts. Evan Cholak got free across the goal mouth and finished Sheriff’s pass to give Austin a 1-0 lead after one.
Celebrating his 19th birthday, Dan Petrick delivered himself a present with a 5-on-3 blast to extend the Bruins lead to 2-0 at 4:39 of the second period. Bismarck would counter late with a 5-on-3 goal of their own, coming from Patrick O’Connor at 19:44.
The most important goal of the game happened 22 seconds into the third when Garrett Dahm and Travis Kothenbeutel broke away shorthanded. Kothenbeutel had a shot blocked but Dahm followed up and buried a goal for the second straight game. At 5:59, Xander Lamppa cashed his own rebound after a wraparound attempt, extending the lead to 4-1. Five minutes later, Levi Stauber scored his first NAHL goal, finishing a pass from Andy Willis with a one-timer into the roof of the net. Bismarck fought back with a shorthanded goal by Simon Morberg and a power play strike by Mitch Walinski, but Jed Pietila’s long empty net heave (his first NAHL goal, as well) sealed the 6-3 victory.
Alex Schilling gained his 21st win and third in a row with 26 stops while Roberts stopped 26 in the loss. Saturday’s weekend finale between the Bruins and Bobcats closes out the regular season. Game time is 7:05 – the Bruins will honor their billet families after warmups and auction the home and away jerseys live after the game.