Bruins roar past Norsemen to clinch a playoff spot

Published 10:57 pm Friday, April 12, 2024

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The Bruins are officially back in the hunt for the Robertson Cup after they clinched a playoff spot in a 6-1 win over the  St. Cloud Norsemen in Riverside Arena Friday night.

The Bruins (31-24-3-1 overall), who needed to win one out of two games this weekend to keep their season alive, didn’t waste any time taking over as the team scored three times in a seven-minute stretch to go up 4-1 in the second period.

Austin captain Austin Salani helped lead the charge as he finished with a goal and two assists.

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“It feels awesome. This is what we wanted,” Salani said. “The last 59 games mean nothing when the postseason comes around. We have a lot of age outs on this team who came here to win a championship and make a push.“

Austin head coach Steve Howard was pleased with how his team answered the call to compete.

“Our guys stepped up. We had some timely goals, timely saves and our guys played some stingy hockey in the second half of the game,” Howard said. “(St. Cloud) was playing for their lives and it’s a mountain to climb when you get down three and half of the game is left. I wanted to make it hard on them and to make them go 200 feet. We did a good job of that.”

Trent Wiemken stopped 23 shots in the win for Austin and he showed his toughness in the third period as he shook off a couple of hits and helped the Bruins shut down the Norsemen in the third period, even though St. Cloud pulled its goalie with 7:30 left in the game.

“I knew they would pull their goalie pretty early if they were still down that margin,” Wiemken said. “It’s easy to stay locked in a game like this. There was a lot of hype here and we were super excited all week. It’s easy for me to play when I’ve got guys in front of me selling out and they just want to block a shot.”

Salani has the second most goals in franchise history with 61 career goals and he has the second most in a season with 31 goals this year. Walter Zacher is Austin’s all-time leading goal scorer with 66 career goals and 32 goals scored in the 2022-2023 season.

Salani, who has committed to Dartmouth College, is excited to try and make one more run with the Bruins, after the team came up one win short of a championship last year.

“It’s been a blessing. I’ve had great billets, great teammates and I’ve made a lot of friends here,” Salani said. “It’s pretty special that I get to play at least another game in Riverside and hopefully we get to extend that a few more times.”

Austin’s veterans all stepped up in the win as Damon Furuseth scored two goals, and Dylan Cook and Ocean Wallace each scored one goal. Those players, amongst Austin’s other long-time players will be asked to step up when the Bruins begin the playoffs as either a No. 3 or No. 4 seed next week.

“The one major thing we have is the experience. Two years ago we went into the playoffs without a lot of experience and we got bounced in the first round,” Howard said. “I’m hoping that experience pays dividends for us this year. Last year, Jackson Luther won us an OT game and Damon Furseth ended the second round in OT. Those are guys, and we’ve got Salani, Ocean and Cookie, who have been here before. It’s all about survival now.”


SC 0  1 0  –  1

Austin 1  3  2 –  6

First period

(A) Trip Pendy (Connor Brust, Alex Laurenza) 9:15

Second period

(SC) Keaton Orrey (Michael Coleman, Kyle Miller) 7:20

(A) Ocean Wallace (Ashton Bynum, Austin Salani) 7:28

(A) Dylan Cook (Ocean Wallace, Salani) 10:12

(A) Damon Furuseth (Laurenza, Brust) 14:19

Third period

(A) Salani (Giuseppe Fiorillo, Johan Persson) 14:50

(A) Furuseth (Jackson Rilei, Jackson Luther) 15:37