Back to the Front: Austin clinches second straight trip to Robertson Cup
Published 11:57 pm Monday, May 4, 2015
The Austin Bruins are back in the Robertson Cup, and they’ve done it with a much different team than they had last season.
With a roster that includes a lot of NAHL rookies, the Bruins were able to hold off a furious Minot rally in the third period to win 4-3 in a must-win situation in game five of the NAHL Central Division Finals in Riverside Arena Monday.
Three of Austin’s four goals on Monday came from players who weren’t on last year’s team and first-year goalie Jake Kielly stopped six shots in the third period to preserve the win. Kielly dove on a free puck to save a goal with 7:27 left in the game and he helped the Bruins stop a six-on-four Minot rush in the last 1:25 after the Minotauros pulled their goalie during a power play.
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“It’s all about family. That’s what it came down to and we’ve put in so much work. That’s really what kept me going and we just wanted to take the next step,” Kielly said. “It’ s really hard to end a team’s season and [Minot] came out with a stronger edge [in the third period].”
The Bruins had their low points earlier this season as many of their players adjusted to playing in the NAHL, but the second half of the season has been mostly ups. For second year players like defenseman Alex Pettersson, the Bruins rookies have proven themselves.
“In the beginning we had some trouble and we were young, but we’ve come a long way. I don’t think we have any rookies anymore. Everybody’s a veteran,” Pettersson said. “We all had the same goal and we’ve been talking about winning the Robertson Cup since game one. When it’s game five at home you don’t have to say too much to the younger guys. They just get going.”
Austin Bruins head coach Chris Tok said assistant coach Jamie Huffman was giving him plenty of credit after the team won its second straight NAHL Central title with a totally different squad than it had last season. Tok chose to remain humble in the moment of victory.
“I said ‘be quiet. This is everybody.’ Right now I’m not thinking about that, but it is great to have twenty new guys and have everybody work together so you can mold them into a team,” Tok said. “To get to this point you’ve got to be a team and you’ve got to work. They’ve got a lot of will and they’ve got a lot of character.”
The Bruins broke open a close game in the third period when Nico Sturm, Josh Wilkins and Trevor Boyd all scored goals in a six-minute stretch to make it a 4-1 game.
“For the first time in the series we used our feet and used our speed to create turnovers,” Tok said. “In the second period we created turnovers and we stayed in their zone.”
The Austin Bruins will open the first round of the Robertson Cup against the Lone Star Brahmas in North Richland Hills, Texas 7:30 p.m. Friday. The series is a best-of-three format and game two will be Saturday, with a possible game three being Sunday.
Last year the Bruins had to settle for a second place finish. This season, they’re hoping to win it all.
“All of the veterans have been thinking about it since last year. We’re just happy to get a second chance,” Pettersson said.
(A) Luke Diestch (Trevor Boyd, Alex Jasiek) 10:17
(M) Tim Athley (Colton Kramer, Jared Brandt) 12:47
(A) Nico Sturm (Brian Bachnak, Alex Pettersson) 10:16
(A) Josh Wilkins (power play) (Bachnak, Nico Strum) 12:27
(A) Trevor Boyd (Bachnak, Ian Scheid) 15:50
(M) Nick Monfils (Luke Davidson, Jacob Howie) 3:38
(M) Johnny Walker (Howie, Jon Lizotte) 6:15
Power plays: Austin — 1-for-1; Minot — 0-for-4
Shots: Austin — 23; Minot — 21