Kauppila’s overtime goal gives Bruins a 1-0 lead over BismarckPublished 10:37pm Friday, April 18, 2014
After a sluggish start, the Austin Bruins turned the tables on the Bismarck Bobcats and they grabbed a 1-0 series lead with a 5-4 overtime win over Bismarck in the NAHL Central Finals in Riverside Arena Friday night.
Austin, which trailed 3-0 early on, won the game just 5:36 into overtime when Sam Kauppila back-handed in a shot with his back facing Bismarck goalie Aaron Nelson. Kauppila, who was back in the lineup after not playing for a couple of weeks, had almost given Austin the win earlier in OT when he had a point blank look deflect off of the post.
HIs game winner came after he collected a shot from Jake Arroyo.
“I caught it on my stick and took a back hand. I got a fortunate bounce. It was just kind of a reaction and it was a blind shot,” Kauppila said. “The first game is huge to try and set the tempo for the whole series. I think we did that tonight.”
The Bruins tied the game up at 4-4 when Niko Hildenbrand maneuvered behind the net and scored just 39 seconds into the third period.
Austin lost to Bismarck in the NAHL Central Division finals the last two seasons and the Bruins dropped game one in each of those series. Things were looking similar on Friday as the Bobcats scored three goals in the first six minutes of the game. The second of those goals came just 20 seconds after Austin’s Hildenbrand had a shot deflect off the post.
Austin head coach Chris Tok took a timeout and let his team regroup.
“I said this is a series, not just one game,” Tok said. “I told them we’ve got to play right now and see what happens.”
Tok also had to make a decision on his goalie as Nick Lehr struggled early on. Lehr recovered and he stopped 17 shots in a row in the second period, third period and overtime period.
“I had the trigger ready to pull him, because last year it didn’t work out in a similar situation,” Tok said. “He shook out of it and he made big saves and didn’t give up any rebounds.”
The Bruins responded positively to Tok’s timeout in the first period as Scott Nelson hit a deep slap shot, Trey Dodd had a rebound goal and Casey Jerry scored to make it 4-3 Bismarck with 4:57 left in the period. The win was a big one for Austin and it can become an even bigger win if the Bruins can take down Bismarck Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in game two.
“It’s really crucial, because they had a short bench tonight and they had a lot of positive vibes after that fast start,” Tok said. “\For us to come back and steal it away is a good body blow.”
Bismarck 4 0 0 0 — 4
Austin 3 0 1 1 — 5
(B) Tanner Salsberry (Huba Sekesi) 1:11
(B) Evan Gieser 3:53
(B) Tyler Dunagan (Stanslav Dzakhov) 5:50
(A) Scott Nelson (Josh Bretner, Jay Dickman) 6:48
(A) Trey Dodd (Easton Viitala) 8:10
(B) Ryan Callahan 12:04
(A) Casey Jerry (Alex Petersson) 15:03
(A) Niko Hildenbrand (Drew Anderson, Luke Dietsch) 0:39
(A) Sam Kauppila (Jake Arroyo, Jay Dickman) 5:36
Shots: Austin — 45; Bismarck — 24
Power plays: Austin — 0-for-2; Bismarck — 0-for-1