Third time’s a charm: Bruins win NAHL Central Division finals

The Austin Bruins made franchise history when the team clinched its first trip to the Robertson Cup by winning game five of the NAHL Central Division Finals Riverside Arena Monday night.

Austin’s all-time leading scorer Jay Dickman scored the game-winning goal on a re-direct of an Austin Nelson slap shot with 4:56 left in the game, and Austin held on to beat the Bismarck Bobcats 2-1.

Austin goalie Nick Lehr has been with the Bruins for three of the franchise’s four years and the Gopher commit stopped 21 shots in the win.

“I can’t even describe it,” Lehr said. “You put so much work in. We all believed in the system and we all believed in each other. We just got it done. The belief went so much further this year. We all support each other and we make sure that we do the right things. We’re all here for each other no matter what.”

Bismarck had ended Austin’s season in the last two Central Division finals, but the Bruins took games four and five to change the outcome this year. Austin will likely be playing in the Robertson Cup Friday, but head coach Chris Tok was willing to let his team enjoy the moment after the win.

“We didn’t talk too much about what’s ahead yet,” he said. “It’s the first time in franchise history, and they’ve got to celebrate and enjoy it. They poured their hearts out Saturday to get here and they’ve got to enjoy it.”

Austin out-shot the Bobcats 45-22, but Bismarck goalie Aaron Nelson kept his team in the game by making some big saves. The Bobcats seized momentum when Zach Yon tied the game at 1-1 on a mid-range slap shot with 14 seconds left in the second period.

The third period saw Jake Arroyo, one of Austin’s top defenseman, go down when a slap shot deflected off his ankle. But Arroyo wasn’t about to miss a chance to get his team in the Robertson Cup as he came back in the game and played solid hockey down the stretch.

“I needed a shift to rest it, but I had to go out there and finish the game,” Arroyo said. “I wanted to help the team out as much as I could. It hurt pretty bad, but I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

Tok said he expected nothing else from Arroyo.

“He’s been a warrior from the day that he first got here,” he said. “You know what you’re going to get out of Jake Arroyo. He gives you everything he’s got every time he laces his skate up and as a coach that’s the best thing you can have.”

Austin opened the game on a strong note when Brian Bachnak, who is from Riverview, Mich., scored his fifth goal of the year on put-back to put Austin up 1-0 seven minutes into the game. Bachnak also did his best to get the Riverside crowd pumped up in the game’s last ten minutes and it helped give the Bruins life.

“We’re a hard working team. We’re not all skill. It paid off and we out worked them, that’s why we won,” Bachnak said. “It was all for the veterans. The biggest thing coming in here was winning and getting to the Robertson Cup. Seeing them smile means the world and seeing the alumni’s excitement is awesome.”

 

SCORING SUMMARY

Bismarck 0 1 0 — 1

Austin 1 0 1 — 2

First period

(A) Brian Bachnak (Eli May, Casey Jerry) 7:00

Second period

(B) Zach Yon 19:46

Thrid period

(A) Jay Dickman (Austin Nelson, Drew Anderson) 15:04

Power plays: Austin — 0-for-3; Bismarck — 0-for-4

Shots: Austin — 45; Bismarck — 22

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