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Making a mark: Oleksiuk nets two goals as Bruins beat Steel in OT

Kyle Oleksiuk has only been a Bruin for 12 of his 89 career NAHL games, but he’s quickly making his mark with the team. He grabbed all of Riverside Arena’s attention when he played a part in all three goals for the Bruins, who beat the Chippewa Steel 3-2 in overtime Friday.

Oleksiuk gave Austin the win when he connected on a slap shot during a four-on-three power play to start the extra session.

“We’ve been talking about shooting the puck all night and overtime comes and get that look, I’m going to take that every day,”Oleksiuk said. “It felt good to get that in.”

Oleksiuk, a forward from Winnipeg, Canada played for the Minot Minotauros for a 33-game stint last year and he played his last 47 games with the Maryland Black Bears, before being traded to Austin at the deadline. He now has seven points in nine games with the Bruins and he has 52 points in his career.

“He’s a skill player and we were looking for a guy who could score and has hands,” Austin head coach Steve Howard said of Oleksiuk. “He’s a perfect guy for us. We actually tried to get him a little earlier in the year, but the trade fell through. We got him at the deadline and he’s been a huge player for us.”

Austin (27-16-2-5 overall) scored a huge momentum boost when Carson Riddle closed out a five-on-three power play with a goal with one second left on the clock in the first period. The Bruins had hammered away for three minutes with a two-man advantage before Riddle’s goal.

Austin’s Jed Pietila harasses the Chippewa Steels’ Jacob Dirks during the first period Friday night at Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Austin seized a 2-0 lead when Oleksiuk scored early in the second, but the Steel (29-17-3-1 overall) tied things up at 2-2 when Braiden Norman scored twice in the second — including a power play goal with 16 seconds left in the frame.

Brett Miller stopped 20 shots to score his 19th win of the season. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute commit has played in 32 of Austin’s 50 games this season and he’s likely to see a lot more time in net down the stretch. He has a record of 19-7-1-3 overall with a save percentage of 91.6.

“I treat every game the same way and every point is important,” said Miller. “If we get a win on a Friday, I have to make sure I have a short memory and get ready for the next one. Throughout the week do the right thing and take care of my body.”

The Bruins entered Friday’s game in third place in the NAHL Central and they are within striking distance of second place Bismarck. Minot was just two points behind Austin, which will play four of its last 11 games against the Minotauros. Austin also has four games remaining against Bismarck.

The defending NAHL champion Aberdeen Wings lead the Central Division and they have already clinched a playoff spot.

“We had a couple of guys that are just off tonight and I talked to those guys,” Howard said. “Some of them are realizing it, but some of them show up like it’s just another game and it’s not. We’ve got to bear down here and the playoff push is big. You can’t even relax, even after you get a win.”

Austin’s Josef Mysak was recently named defenseman of the month as he had 10 points in nine games in February. Mysak, who is from Litvinov, Czeck Republic, is a Niagra University recruit.

Austin’s Cullen Rush leans into Chippewa’s Jacob Dirks during the first period Friday night in Riverside Arena. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

SCORING SUMMARY

Chippewa 0 2 0  0    2

Austin 1 1 0  1    3

First period

(A) Carson Riddle (Kyle Oleksiuk, Culllen Rush) (power play) 19:59

Second period

(A) Oleksiuk (Corey Clifton, Connor Crawford) 3:08

(C) Braiden Dorfman (Jackson Decker, Luke Farthing) (power play) 6:30

(C) Dorfman (Banks Burkart) (power play) 19:44

Third period

No scoring

OT

(A) Kyle Oleksiuk (Jed Pietila, Dante Sheriff) (power play) :29

Shots: Austin —39; Chippewa —  22

Power plays: Austin — 2-for-5; Chippewa — 2-for-6