Bruins clinch first-round seriesPublished 11:11pm Saturday, April 14, 2012
Nolan Kirley’s goal with just under two minutes left in the period sends Blizzard packing
Work hard and good things happen.
The Austin Bruins’ Nolan Kirley made good on a rebound shot with just under two minutes remaining in the third period to break a 2-2 tie, giving Austin game four, 3-2, and the series over Alexandria Saturday night at Riverside Arena.
Kirley found himself alone just off to the right of Alexandria goalie Jacob Meyers when the rebound game to him, beating Meyers who tried laying out to bury the puck.
“The rebounds were out there and I found it on my backside and put it in,” Kirley said who missed a couple good chances back in the second period. “It was good to finally put one in.”
For the final two minutes the Bruins had to turn away a furious attack by the Blizzard who pulled Meyers for the 6-on-5 man advantage, but the defense and goalie Tyler Bruggeman, who turned away a good shot by Alexandria in the final seconds, was able to stop the rush.
“The guys just did a hell of a job,” Bruggeman said. “They ate the puck around the boards and I was able to make the stop with about 20 seconds left.
“We set up a perimeter and (Alexandria) wasn’t even a threat,” he continued. “You have to commend them for that. I’m so proud of the guys.”
Kirley’s goal game at a great time for the Bruins who led 2-0 through two periods until Alexandria came out and scored two quick goals in the third period, first from Dylan Zink on an unassisted slapshot out front in the opening minute of the period and then, just over a minute later, Tucker Coborn scored on a power play.
The Bruins called a time-out after the second goal to collect themselves.
“I told them we have two choices,” head coach Chris Tok said. “We’ve got 17:39 left; we can go win a hockey game or feel sorry for ourselves. They scored two goals, so what? We skated too hard to let it get away.”
The third period trickled along until the final 10 minutes when the game began to pick up again, ultimately leading to Kirley’s game winner.
“Nolan Kirley, unreal,” Bruggeman said. “He’s such a blue-collar guy, he’d do anything for this team. It couldn’t go to a better guy.”
Bruggeman faced 40 shots and made 38 saves, making stops when he needed to until the two quick goals of the third.
“I was kicking myself, and went to the bench to collect myself,” Bruggeman said, referring to the time-out. “I just told myself, I wasn’t going to give up another goal.”
“The guys believe in themselves and they believe in Bruggeman,” Tok said. “He made a hard save at the end to keep it 3-2.”
The two teams battled through a 0-0 knot after one period before the Bruins were able to break the stalemate on Brandon Wahlin’s goal at the 4:57 mark of the second.
Jeremy Finger intercepted the puck at the blue line along the right boards, fought through a crowd and fed the puck across to Wahlin for the score.
At 10:30 of the second Charlie Adams made it 2–0 during a power play on a one-timer from AJ Reid to Meyers’ right. It was a simliar to a shot Adams just missed Friday night when his stick broke.
“That was one of the nicest shots I’ve seen in hockey,” Tok said. “He’s been working on the shot.”
Austin will now face Bismarck in the second round. The Bobcats wrapped up their series Saturday night as well with a 5-3 over Aberdeen.
“We matched up pretty well against Bismarck this season,” Tok said. “This will be a physical series.”
The Bruins have played well against the Bobocats in the second half of the season including a weekend sweep back in March where they outscored Bismarck 10-5 over the two games.
“We’re proud of these guys. They showed resilience after giving up two goals tonight,” Tok said. “Ending a team’s season is one of the hardest things to do.
“This is good for the organization and good for the community of Austin,” he added.
Austin will kick off the series with Bismarck Friday and Saturday in Bismarck before returning to Austin and Riverside Arena on April 27-28.
Alexandria 0 0 2 — 2
Austin 0 2 1 — 3
(A) Brandon Wahlin (Jeremy Finger) 4:57
(A) Charlie Adams PP (AJ Reid, Jonathan Gehrt) 10:30
(AL) Dylan Zink (unassisted) :17
(AL) Tucker Coborn PP (Dylan Zink) 2:21
Powerplays: Alexandria — 1 for 3; Austin — 1 for 3
Shots: Alexandria 40; Austin 30