NAHL Division Finals Week One


Week one of the NAHL Division Finals is in the books with eight teams vying for a spot in the Robertson Cup National Tournament. The tournament will be held in Frisco, TX – May 10 – 13. After the first week of play the Central Division and West Division series are split at a game apiece while the North Division and South Division are potentially down to their final game.

NAHL North Division

Soo vs. Jamestown

The Eagles and Ironmen faced off at Pullar Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, MI for games one and two of the North Division Finals. The Soo Eagles had to be feeling good about the chances with the visiting Ironmen having taken 6 of the eight regular season contests between the two teams while outscoring Jamestown 34-18 over the eight games. Jamestown however, had other ideas.

Game One

Game one saw scoring in bunches with both teams getting big momentum swings. The Eagles opened the scoring at 4:32 of the first on a Brandon Adams goal (Sean Murphy, Jared VanWormer). However, just over seven minutes later the Ironmen went on a scoring run that proved to be too big a hole for the Eagles to get out of. Nicholas Sierra (Huba Sekesi, Kenny Curtis) kicked it off with a four goals in less than four minutes run with a power play goal at 11:38. Luc Gerdes (Ryan Doucet, Evan Ritt) who had led the Ironmen in scoring against the Eagles in the regular season followed with a goal at 13:11. Almost before the crowd could settle back in Ritt (Gerdes, Doucet) made it a 3-1 game just nine seconds after the Gerdes goal. Daniel Cesarz (Tyler Dunagan, Sierra) closed out the first period scoring at 15:27.

In the second period the Soo Eagles tried to mount a comeback scoring two goals within the first 39 seconds of the period. Adams (Cody Von Rueden, VanWormer) logged his second of the game just 26 seconds into the period and then JD Cotroneo (Sean Murphy, VanWormer) pulled the home team within a single goal at the 39 second mark. As quickly as Soo had grabbed the momentum it was stolen away by a Ritt (Dylan Zink) power play goal.

Jamestown picked up an insurance goal at 7:07 of the third period from Ryan Urso (Sierra, Dunagan) to lock up the game one victory. Joe Ballmer picked up the win for the visiting Ironmen stopping 30 of 33 on the night. Tyler Marble who had a 2.10GAA against Jamestown during the regular season took the loss making 32 saves on 38 shots faced.

Game Two

As much as game one was an offensive display, game two was all goaltending. Both Ballmer and Marble came up big on the night with Ballmer being just a bit better in the end rejecting all 34 shots faced for the shutout win. Marble nearly matched Ballmer save for save as he made 32 saves on the night allowing only a Elliot Tisdale (Victor Johansson, Bret Szajner) goal at 6:25 of the second period.

The series will now move to Jamestown, NY for games three and four in necessary on May 2nd and 3rd.

NAHL Central Division

Austin vs. Bismarck

The regular season saw the Austin Bruins and Bismarck Bobcats face each other 10 times with each team coming out of the series with identical 5-3-2 records. They would follow suit, splitting the first two games at the Riverside Arena in Austin, MN.

Game one

Austin managed to hold the home ice advantage in game one thanks in great part to a CJ Smith hat trick. Smith (Chris Fischer, John Simonson) accounted for all the scoring in the first period with the goals coming just 15 second apart at 2:06 and 2:21.

Bismarck broke through at 9:27 of the second on a Cory Chapman (Daniel Kovar, Joe Giordano) goal to pull within one. Simonson (Kody Reuter, Fischer) had a late goal with just 1:48 left in the period to reestablish the two goal lead.

In the third the Bobcats once again got within one goal as Stanislav Dzakhov (Matt Pohlkamp) scored at 5:26, before Smith (Fischer, Simonson) put the game out of reach at 7:50.

Nicholas Lehr was stellar in net making 38 saves for the win. Aaron Nelson faced 24 shots on the night and allowed four goals for the loss.

Game Two

It was a reversal in fortunes for the teams in game two with Bismarck taking a 5-2 win to pull even in the series and take away home ice advantage from Austin. Bismarck’s Bob Kinne (Giordano, Chapman) had the lone first period goal coming at 16:59.

Cody Dixon (AJ Reid, Grant Eichstadt) briefly knotted the score for the Bruins at 12:03 of the second period. The tie game lasted less than two minutes as Kovar (Filip Starzynski, Levi Blom) answered at 14:00 even and Pohlkamp (Blom) added a goal at 18:13.

In the third, Ladislav Zikmund (Brandon Wahlin, Riley Colvard) found the back of the net just 1:37 into the period to give the home team some life. However, Kovar (Kinne) potted a short handed goal with 2:19 to go and Adam Knochenmus (Patrick Moore, Shane Omdahl) iced it with an empty netter at 19:05.

Nelson faced 28 shots and made 26 saves to atone for his game one performance while Lehr allowed three goals on just 22 shots before giving way to Jason Pawloski who turned aside seven of eight shots.

Games three and four will be played on May 3rd and 4th in Bismarck. Game five if necessary will be May 6th back in Austin.

NAHL South Division

Amarillo vs. Texas

The South Division Finals got underway at the Cal Farley Arena in Amarillo where the visiting Texas Tornado had struggled all season. The Tornado had just come off a sweep of the Topeka Roadrunners in the first round and were looking to carry that momentum into the series against the Amarillo Bulls.

Game One

Amarillo, who ran up a 10-1-1 record against Texas during the regular season, continued their dominance of the Tornado in game one firing 54 shots on goal. Hampus Gustafsson (Tyler Rostenkowski, Mike Davis) got things going for the Bulls with an alert play to poke home a loose puck at 15:00 of the first. With just seven seconds left in the opening stanza , Texas suffered the first of three late period goals on the evening. TJ Sherman (Tyler Deresky, Clint Carlisle) was credited with a questionable goal off a scramble in front to send the game to the first intermissions.

Drew Mayer (Justin Greenberg, Michael Hoy) had a power play goal at 8:03 of the second for the Tornado to breathe some life back into the team. However, a Brady Ferguson (Carlisle, John Rey) power play goal for the Bulls at 19:01 zapped any momentum the Tornado had gained.

The third period’s lone tally came from Ryan Cole (Omar Mullan, TJ Sarcona) for the 4-1 final score. The Tornado’s Hunter Leisner took the loss despite making a whopping 50 saves on the night. Paul Berrafato who led the league in wins during the regular season picked up another with 25 saves on 26 shots faced.

Game Two

Amarillo jumped out on top in game two on an unassisted Deresky breakaway at 4:23 of the fist. The Tornado fought back and tied the game at 18:22 on a Brandon Hawkins (Nick Neville, Hoy) power play goal. Hawkins led the league in scoring during the regular season with 35, but the first period goal was only his second in the past 12 games.

The second period was all Bulls. Their first came on a Cole (Ferguson, Gage Christianson) power play goal just 15 seconds into the period. Ferguson (Joe Grabowski) followed with a short handed goal at 4:09. Ferguson (Christianson, Cole) added a second tally at 6:22 and Davis (Dan McNamara, Rostenkowski) closed out the scoring at 11:40.

Neither team was able to light the lamp in the third period resulting in an Amarillo two game lead in the best of five series. Berrafato picked up the win for the second night in a row allowing only a single goal on 27 shots faced. Leisner on the other hand allowed five goals on 23 shots in the first two periods for the loss before giving way to Aaron Davis to start the third. Davis stopped all seven shots he faced.

Texas will now return to the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco looking to claw their way back into the series and avoid being swept. Game three will be played April 30 with game four on May 1st if necessary.

NAHL West Division

Wenatchee vs. Fairbanks

During the regular season the Wild and Icedogs played each other a total of 12 times with Fairbanks winning seven including the last three in a late season run at the top spot in the division. Once all was said and done, Wenatchee held onto the top spot in the West by a two point margin over Fairbanks.

Game One

Game one at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, WA was a defensive struggle with the games lone goal coming with under three minutes to play in regulation. David Mead (Noah Nelson, Joe Sullivan) finally broke the deadlock for the Wild at the 17:49 mark of the third period.

Neither team’s defense was allowing much in the way of offensive pressure as there was a combined total of only 35 shots on goal in the game. Robert Nichols turned aside all 18 shots he faced for the shutout win while Steve Perry took the hard luck loss with 16 saves on 17 shots on goal.

Game Two

In game two Fairbanks potted two first period goals to go into the intermission leading 2-0. Max Birkinbine (Garret Clemment) broke the ice at 6:57 followed by Taylor Munson (Lawrence Cornellier, Devin Loe) at 12:27.

The teams traded goals in the second with Jono Davis (Max McHugh) getting Wenatchee on the board at 1:39. Cornellier responded with an unassisted goal at 18:22 to put the Icedogs back up by a pair.

Cornellier (Clemment) netted his second of the game at 3:26 which proved to be a big goal for Fairbanks as Wenatchee came roaring back. Tyler Bruneteau (Chris Jones) got the comeback started at 15:49 and Jacob Barber (Joshua Hartley) had an extra attacker goal at 19:13 to pull the Wild within one, but that is as close as they would get.

It was once again Nichols and Perry who picked up the decisions in net. However, this time it was Perry who came out on the winning side making 34 saves on 37 shots faced while Nichols took the loss with 26 saves on 30 shots faced.

The series will resume May 3rd and 4th at the Big Dipper in Fairbanks, AK with game five if necessary back in Wenatchee on the 7th.