Zapata zaps Wings as Bruins stave off elimination
Published 10:14 pm Friday, April 19, 2019
The Austin Bruins have struggled with scoring on Aberdeen goalie Matt Vernon all year long, but with their season on the line, the Bruins found the answer as they beat the Wings 4-2 to force a game four in the NAHL Central Division semifinals Friday in Riverside Arena.
The Bruins scored three times in the third period and Dante Zapata, a forward from Maplewood, Minnesota, scored one of the biggest goals of his career when he leaned back and uncorked a slap shot against the grain on Vernon to put Austin up 3-2 with 8:50 left in the game game. A little over a minute later, Zapata pulled off a double spin move and scored on Vernon to make it 4-2 with 7:15 left in the game.
“I think we came out with a little bit of desperation,” Zapata said. “We just had to put our best foot forward and give it everything we had, play our game. It worked out well for us tonight and hopefully we can do it again (Saturday). I think we need to build off our momentum and carry that intensity into (Saturday).”
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Austin goalie Kyle McClellan didn’t have a great look on Zapata’s goals, but he said he knows what his teammate is capable of in the open ice.
“I see Dante in practice every day and he’s able to pick those corners and make it hard for the goalie,” McClellan said.
McClellan, a Mercyhurst commit, stopped 22 of 24 shots in the win. He has been the lone goaltender for the Bruins for almost two months now, but he’s still found a way to put on the pads and compete every single night.
“I’ve just kind of shown up and tried to get better. I get rest when I can,” McClellan said. “The team’s helping me get through it and that’s helping. Winning is the goal and when we have games like tonight, it makes it easier and I don’t think about it as much.”
Austin grabbed a 2-1 lead when Jed Pietila scored early in the third, but Aberdeen’s Adam Pitters tied it at 2-2 just two minutes later.
The Bruins seized an early 1-0 lead when Ben Almquist scored late in the first period, but the Wings scored the equalizer to make it 1-1 when Jonathan Bendorf scored late in the second period.
Austin will host Aberdeen in game four at 7:25 p.m. Saturday. If there is a game five, it will be played in Aberdeen at 7:15 p.m. on Monday.
Aberdeen 0 1 1 — 2
Austin 1 0 3 — 4
(A) Ben Almquist (Hugh Larkin, Josef Mysak) 16:08
(AB) Jonathan Bendorf (Thomas Rocco, Adam Pitters) 15:41
(A) Jed Pietila (Andrew Willis, Connor Mylymok) 5:10
(AB) Adam Pitters (Jonathan Bendorf, Pierson Brandon) 7:31
(A) Dante Zapata (Jed Pitelila) 11:10
(A) Zapata (Josef Mysak) 12:45
Shots: Austin — 20; Aberdeen — 24
Power plays: Austin — 0-for-2; Aberdeen — 0-for-2