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Friday Finals: Rebels punch ticket to Robertson Cup

May 7, 2016

Brett Heikkila scored in the second overtime to keep the defending champion Wilderness playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 double OT win against Fairbanks in Game 3.

East Division Finals, Game 3: Aston 9 @ Johnstown 2 (Aston wins series, 3-0) – The Aston Rebels won the East Division playoff title and advanced to the NAHL’s Robertson Cup Championship next week with a convincing 9-2 win in Johnstown in Game 3, completing a series sweep of the Tomahakws. The loss ended the Tomahawks season. The Tomahawks scored the game’ first goal when Luke Lynch deposited a rebound past Rebels goalie Trevor Micucci early in the first period. Aston tied the game seconds later when Ryan Cusin scored at 5:08 of the first period. The Rebels added another goal at 6:50 when Austin Swingle was credited with the tally after a Tomahawks defensive miscue. Dean Balsamo made it 3-1 Aston with his goal at 10:02 of the first stanza. Brennan Kapcheck and Frank Spellmen assisted on the goal. Cusin capped off an efficient Aston period with his second goal of the game 53 seconds later. Michael Merulla and Dom Garcia were credited with the helpers. In the second period, Kristofers Bindulis added a power play goal mid-way through. Kapcheck picked up his second assist of the contest. Early in the third, the Tomahawks got back on the scoreboard with a power play goal from Casey Linkenheld to make it 5-2 Aston. The Rebels answered with a Colton McMenamin goal with just over 10 minutes remaining in the third period. Swingle picked up the lone assist. Chris Deprez added an empty net, short-handed tally after the Tomahawks pulled netminder Andrew Lindgren in favor of the extra attacker. The Rebels scored another short-handed, empty net goal this time from the stick of Swingle. The goal was unassisted. Cusin netted a hat trick to make the score 9-2 Aston with over three minutes to play in the third period. In the loss, Lindgren stopped 20 of 27 Aston shots on goal. Micucci halted 30 Tomahawks shots in the victory. Boxscore

Central Division Finals, Game 3: Bismarck 0 @ Austin 7 (Bismarck leads best of five series, 2-1) – It was all Bruins as they staved off elimination with a convincing 7-0 win in Game 3 of the Central Division Finals. Jan Stefka scored twice and Austin Rueschhoff had three points in the win. Goalie Kris Carlson made 18 saves in the shutout. The 1st period was even with neither team able to find the back of the net, but Austin held a 10-3 shots advantage. The Bruins exploded for four goals in the 2nd period. Two of the four goals in the period were scored by Stefka, both on the power play. Paul O’Connor and Rueschhoff also scored in the period to make the score 4-0, which also ended the night for Bismarck goalie Hunter Shepard. The 3rd period was more Austin pressure as they scored three more goals. Austin made it 5-0 on a power play goal from AJ Drobot. Another goal, this time from Miha Zajc, made the scored 6-0 and a final goal from Jade Miller made the final 7-0. Nick Althaus made three saves in a relief appearance in goal for Bismarck. Game 4 is Saturday night with the Bruins again facing elimination.  Should the Bruins win, it would force a 5th and decisive game back in Bismarck on Monday night. Should Bismarck win Game 4, they would advance to the Robertson Cup. Boxscore
 
Midwest Division Finals, Game 3: Fairbanks 1 @ MN Wilderness 2 (2OT) (Fairbanks leads best of five series, 2-1) – For the third straight game in the series, the two clubs would need overtime to decide things.  Game 3 was two overtimes, but at the end of the 2nd overtime, Brett Heikkila scored to give Minnesota 2-1 win as they stayed alive in the series to force a Game 4 on Saurday in Cloquet. The Wilderness would get on the board first late in the 1st period with a unassisted goal from Alex Toscano with assists to Isak Bergland and Jack Forbort. After a scoreless 2nd period where both goalies shined, the Ice Dogs knotted the game at 1-1 early in the 3rd period as Reggie Letz got a pass in the high slot from Tyler Tomberlin and wristed home a shot past a screened Wilderness goalie Luka Kania. Both Kania and Fairbanks goalie Gavin Nieto shined the rest of what would be almost two overtimes.  The Wilderness would win the game, thanks to some sustained pressure in the Ice Dogs zone late in the 2nd overtime as a shot from the point from Alex Trapp was blocked in front of Nieto, but Heikkila was there to deposit the rebound past an outstretched Nieto. Kania made 37 saves in the win, while Nieto made 27 saves in the loss. Boxscore
 
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