Week Two NAHL Playoff Review

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Following the second weekend of play in the NAHL two first round series are completed while six others are just underway. 

NAHL North Division

Soo vs Port Huron

The Top seeded Soo Eagles have taken a two games to none lead in their series with Port Huron. Port Huron had earned the right to face Soo by defeating Johnstown in the three game Wild Card series.

In game one Soo jumped out to an early two goal lead on goals by Chris Waterstreet and Alexander Taulien. It only took five minutes for the Eagles to see the lead evaporate as Brett DAndrea and Rick DeRosa scored to pull the Fighting Falcons even. The Eagles got two more in the second. Pat Thompson had the first before Waterstreet scored his second of the game on an unassisted goal. Tyler Marble picked up the win in net for Soo stopping 28 of 30 shots sent his way. Max Milosek took the loss allowing four goals on 36 shots.

In game two, it was Port Huron who got on the board first just 19 seconds into the game on an Ian Miller goal. From there it was all Eagles as they put up four unanswered goals. Matt Menta had a late first period goal. Eric Rivard had a power play goal midway through the second, Kyle Loridon scored late to close out the middle stanza. Sean Murphy had the only third period goal. Marble once again picked up the win with 33 saves on 34 shots. Alex Blankenburg took the loss making 33 saves on 37 shots.

Kyle Loridon (1G-2A) and Rick DeRosa (1G-2A) are leading scorers in the series. Tyler Marble has a 1.50GAA and a .953SV%. The series will now shift to Port Huron for games on the 18th and 19 if necessary.

Jamestown vs Kalamazoo

After Kalamazoo dominated the Springfield Jr Blues in the Wild Card round by scores of 7-1 and 6-0, they have felt the agony of defeat. Jamestown has put Kalamazoo down two games in their best of five series.

Game one saw Jamestown dominate the Jr K-Wings by a score of 7-1. Jamestown got their seven goals from six different Ironmen. Tyler Dunagan scored first, followed by an unassisted short hander from Nathan Ropelewski. Ryan Doucet had the final goal of the first. The second period scoring came from Daniel Cesarz, Brett Szajner and Evan Ritt with the second unassisted goal of the night for Jamestown. Cesarz scored his second goal early in the third. Luc Bobby scored for Kalamazoo with under five minutes to go to avoid the shutout. Joe Ballmer made 33 saves on 34 shots for the win. Alex Okicki got the start for Kalamazoo but allowed three goals on 14 shots before giving way to Marcus Due-Boje to start the second period. Due-Boje didn’t fair any better with four goals allowed on 21 shots.

Game two went much the same way as game two of the other North series. Kalamazoo jumped out to first period lead only to give up three unanswered goals. Danny Hamburg scored for the K-Wings. Jamestown tied it late in the second on a Victor Johansson goal.  Doucet had a third period power play goal for the game winner before Sierra scored a goal of his own. Ballmer again allowed a single goal on 30 shots for his second win. Due-Boje took the loss with 26 saves on 29 shots.

Nicholas Sierra (1G-4A) leads all scorers with five points. Daniel Cesarz and Ryan Doucet with two goals each are the only players to log multiple goals. Joe Ballmer has put up a 1.00GAA and a .969SV%.

Kalamazoo will host Jamestown on the 17th and 18th if necessary.

Look for the Soo to close out the series in Port Huron to claim the first playoff series win in their first season. Jamestown will complete the sweep and move to face the Soo Eagles in the Division Finals.

NAHL Central Division

Austin vs Minot

The Austin Bruins took the first game of the series, but Minot rebounded for an overtime win in the second game to knot the series at a game apiece.

Game one saw no scoring in the first period. Michael Bond of Austin kicked things off midway through the second. Cameron Rowat pulled Minot even but just 25 second later Grant Eichstadt put the Bruins back up to stay. Nolan Kirley had an unassisted empty netter for the final score.

Game two Minot’s Wesley Iverson scored at 2:33 and held the lead until early in the third. AJ Reid scored to tie the game up leading to overtime. In the overtime period Jadin Martin netted the winner. Tyler Parks faced 39 shots and making 38 saves for the win. Jason Pawloski also had 38 saves but faced 40 shots.

Grant Eichstadt (1G-1A) is the only skater to register multiple points so far in the series. Tyler Parks has made faced 71 shots making 68 saves for a .958SV%. He has a 1.40GAA and a 1-0-1 record.

The series will continue on the 19th and 20th in Minot, ND.

Bismarck vs Brookings

Bismarck has built a two game lead handling Brookings fairly easily.

Game one was a back and forth affair in the first and third period sandwiched around a Bismarck controlled second. In the first Matt Anders got things started for the Bobcats at 2:58. Brookings came back on a Thomas Williams goal, but with only 15 seconds left in the period Evan Giesler put the Bobcats back on top. Bismarck scored three second period goals. Patrick Moore was first followed by a Seth Blair power play goal. Moore netted his second of the period at 16:00. The teams alternated goals in the third. Blair had a pair for the hat trick and Cory Chapman had the third for Bismarck. Eetu Karvinen and Thomas Williams scored for Brookings. Drew Weigman was in net for all eight Bismarck goals on 53 shots on goal. Aaron Nelson got the win making 20 saves on 23 shots.

Game two, Tyler Cayemberg opened the scoring for Brookings, but was answered by Seth Blair with his fourth goal in two games. The Blizzard got a power play goal from Eric Brenk in the second, but as in the first the Bobcats responded with a power play goal of their own off the stick of Stanislav Dzakhov. Matt Anders wrapped up scoring in the second for the Bismarck one goal lead. Filip Starzynski put Bismarck up two early in the third. Brenk scored mid-period to get the Blizzard back within striking distance, but Brookings would get no closer. Blair scored on the power play and Evan Giesler added an empty netter for the 6-3 final score. Drew Weigman was once again saddled with the loss allowing five goals on 36 shots, while Aaron Nelson made 27 saves on 30 shots on goal.

Seth Blair (5G-2A) has set the pace offensively in the series. Matt Anders and Evan Giesler have contributed two goals each. Bismarck will travel to Brookings for games on the 19th and 20th if necessary.

Minot should be able to extend the series with a win at home sending the series back to Austin where the Bruins will win it in five. Brookings will take game three at home but the Bobcats will rebound to finish the series win in game four setting up an Austin, Bismarck Division Finals.

NAHL South Division

Amarillo vs Corpus Christi

Following their week one split on home ice in Amarillo, the Bulls went to the Gulf Coast to take a pair from the Icerays by identical 5-3 scores.

Game three, Amarillo’s Ryan Cole had the lone first period goal. In the second the Bulls went up by two thanks to Captain John Rey before Corpus Christi could get on the board. Rudy Sulmonte tallied an Icerays power play goal, but TJ Sherman and Geoff Fortman responded for the Bulls. The third period saw Corpus Christi pull within one on goals from Brandon Berkley and Sulmonte. However, Rey put the game away at 16:09. Paul Berrafato took the win with 22 saves on 25 shots. Hayden Stewart was in net for the Icerays and faced 41 shots making 36 saves.

Game four, again the Bulls had the only first period goal courtesy of Dan McNamara. Corpus Christi took a brief lead in the second with goals from Brandon Smith and Emil Romig. Just over two minutes after the Icerays went out front, Amarillo came back on a power play goal by John Rey and an unassisted goal by Tyler Deresky. Corpus Christ went on the power play in the third and Charles Baldwin converted at 4:51. Hampus Gustafsson and Mike Davis added goals for the Bulls to take the series three games to one.

The game ended with fireworks as Corpus Christi’s emotions spilled over. Michael Economos was hit with an Unsportsmanlike Conduct and Game Misconduct at the 19:18 mark. Just two second later Caleb OBrein drew an Instigator Game Misconduct, Fighting Major and Fighting Under 5 Minutes Game Misconduct while Andrew Paras drew a Fighting Instigator, Instigator Game Misconduct, Fighting Under 5 Minutes Game Misconduct, Aggressor Game Misconduct and a Gross Misconduct Tier 1. Goalie Ben Myers who came into the game following the Economos penalties got a Crossing Red Line minor. In all the Icerays racked up 81 penalty minutes. Paul Berrafato took the win with 30 saves on 33 shots on goal. Hayden Stewart once again took the loss allowing five goals on 42 shots.

Amarillo will next host the Texas Tornado for the South Division Finals with dates to be announced.

Topeka vs Texas

Texas played host to Topeka after winning the first two on the road. From the drop of the opening puck the game was never really in doubt.

Game three Tornado rookie Scott Conway opened the scoring goal less than five minutes into the game. Alexey Soloviev followed to send the teams to the first intermission with Texas holding a two goal lead. Conway tallied again in the second for the only goal of the period. The Tornado broke things open in the final period on goals by Jason Eddy, Jackson Leef, Justin Greenberg, Nick Blasé and Conway for the hat trick. Texas’ final two goals came on the power play. Juraj Kucirko netted Topeka’s only goal of the game after Leef had put Texas up 5-1. Hunter Leisner stopped 31 of 32 shots on goal while Spencer Viele allowed seven goals on 29 shots before being ejected from the game. Parker Butler came in for the final 57 seconds and allowed one goal on two shots faced.

The end of the Topeka– Tornado series wound up much like the Amarillo–Corpus Christi series. Topeka’s Kevin Patterson made a run at CJ Reuschlein leveling him away from the play with a vicious elbow. The cheap shot resulted in multiple players  pairing off as Jason Eddy tried to get to Patterson. Once the linesman got Patterson to the safety of the box, Eddy turned to the end boards where Viele and Anthony Mousseau were locked up. As Eddy approached the linesman pulled him down from behind and while he was on his knees Kyle Sharkey threw a right at Eddy that missed. Eddy got back to his feet, bent Sharkey over and dropped him with a huge upper cut.

With the hat trick in game three Scott Conway (4G-1A) led all scorers in the series. Alexey Soloviev (1G-4A) and CJ Reucshlein (2G-2A) also contributed. Hunter Leisner was in net for all three wins and posted a 1.00GAA with a .968SV%.

This is a tough one to call. If the Texas Tornado team that swept Topeka shows up for the Division Finals the Tornado will once again represent the South at the Robertson Cup Tournament. If the Tornado revert to the late season struggles the series may go to four games but the Amarillo Bulls will finally have their chance to hoist the cup.

NAHL West Division

Wenatchee vs Fresno

Game one Wenatchee completely dominated controlling the game from start to finish. The Wild scored two first period goals with the first coming from Derick Kuchera followed by a Brian Williams power play score. Evan Schmidbauer scored the only goal in the second. Wenatchee busted loose for four third period power play goals from Joshua Hartley, Noah Nelson, Jono Davis and Chris Kerr. Robert Nichols stopped all 23 shots for the shutout. Thomas Sholl took the loss facing 41 shots allowing 7 goals.

Game two saw Fresno knot the series at a game apiece with three unassisted goals. Dan Sherer and Andrew Herlofsky connected in the first and Mitchell Snyder added a second period goal. Max McHugh scored Wenatchee’s only goal with just 23 seconds left in the middle frame before a scoreless third. Thomas Sholl got the win to make up for the lopsided loss the night before. Sholl faced 36 shots stopping 35. Robert Nichols took the loss for Wenatchee allowing three goals on 17 shots before giving way to Nick Schmit who stopped all three shots he faced.

No single skater has more than one goal in the series however, Joshua Hartley (1G-4A) has five points to lead all scorers. Robert Nichols has a 1.96GAA and .930SV% but is 1-1-0 with a shutout. The series now moves to Fresno for two games on the 17th and 18th.

Fairbanks vs Kenai River

This has been a tight series and sets at one game apiece as the teams battle for Alaska bragging rights.

Game one went to the Icedogs. After the teams skated to a scoreless first period, Lawrence Cornellier got the scoring started right at six minutes into the second. Kyle Lee added a power play goal to bump the Fairbanks lead to two. In the third Brad LeLievre pulled Kenai River to within a single goal, but Jakob Romo scored into an empty net to lock up the win. Steve Perry turned aside 24 of 25 shots on goal for the win. Marcus Zelzer suffered the loss allowing two goals on 21 shots.

Game two went to the first intermission at a one to one tie. Judd Loewenstein opened the scoring for the Brown Bears then Lawrence Cornellier tied it up it up on the power play. Kenai Riverre took the lead midway through the third on a Alex Jackstadt power play tally. Steve Perry and Marcus Zelzer were in net again. Zelzer got the win with 29 saves on 30 shots and Perry took the loss stopping 25 of 27 shots.

Lawrence Cornellier (2G-0A) is the only multi point scorer so far in the series. Marcus Zelzer and Steve Perry both have a 1.50GAA. Perry is setting at a .942SV% while Zelzer is at .941SV%.

Kenai River will now host the Icedogs on the 19th and 20th followed by a game back in Fairbanks on the 22nd if necessary.

Look for Wenatchee to take both games in Fresno. The Fairbanks – Kenai River series will go to five games before the Brown Bears upset the Icedogs to face the Wild.