by John Peterson
A night after the Austin Bruins (27-10-11) dropped a disappointing 4-1 game in Brookings, the team responded in a big way on Valentine’s Day Saturday. The Bruins flipped the script, winning 7-1 over the Blizzard (16-21-8) at Riverside Arena in Austin.
Saturday’s game started much better than Friday’s for the Bruins. A pair of rookies teamed up to put Austin on the board 3:30 into the game. JC Maclean (Basking Ridge, NJ) centered a pass from behind the Blizzard net, and Jade Miller (Minto, ND) threw a backhander behind Brookings goalie Ryan Kubic (St. Andrews, MB).
Zach Kennedy (Eagle River, WI) gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead at 11:35 of the period and Austin carried that lead into the intermission. Kennedy provided a perfect screen for a Trevor Boyd (Muskegon, MI) wrist shot to get through to the net. Then Kennedy spun around and tapped home what turned out to be the game-winner.
Nine seconds into the second period, Brian Bachnak (Riverview, MI) caught the Blizzard flat-footed and rifled a wrist shot past Kubic from the slot to make it 3-0. A few minutes later, Jacob Kullberg (Kallered, Sweden) batted in a rebound, which chased Kubic from the game for backup Eric Hancock (North Royalton, OH). Even Hancock couldn’t withstand the relentless Austin attack.
Still in the second period, Bachnak followed his own rebound for his second goal of the period to bring the lead to 5-0. Brookings erased the goose egg on the scoreboard thanks to a goal from newcomer Ben Campbell (Duluth, MN) at 15:18 of the frame. But Austin answered again 22 seconds later, when Boyd found Alex Jasiek (St. Louis, MO) in front of the net and Jasiek beat Hancock to make it 6-1, completing a four-goal second period for the Bruins.
For the second time in the game, Bachnak scored less than ten seconds into a period, when the Bruins captain completed his first-career hat-trick on the first shot of the third period. The goal gave the Bruins a touchdown on the night en route to a 7-1 convincing win to split the weekend series. Austin heavily outshot Brookings for the second night in a row (35-18), and Kielly stopped 17 shots in his 15th win of the season.
Next weekend, the Bruins travel up to Cloquet for a weekend series against the Minnesota Wilderness, leaders of the Midwest Division. Friday and Saturday’s games are scheduled for 7pm. Both games can be seen on fasthockey.com, and Friday’s game can also be heard on 1480AM KAUS in Austin.