Friday Finals: Fairbanks becomes first team to clinch playoff spot
Johnstown 0 @ Fairbanks 5 – Josh Benson stopped all 14 shots that came his way and Robert Blueger had a three-point night as Fairbanks became the first team in the league to clinch a Robertson Cup Playoff berth thanks to a 5-0 win over the Tomahawks. The Ice Dogs got rolling in the 1st period with a pair of goals from Connor Chilton and Caleb Hite. Blueger would add a goal in the 2nd period to make it 3-0 and Nolan Schaeffer and Jack Johnston scored in the 3rd period to make it a 5-0 final. The win was Fairbanks’ 18th in a row. Tomahawks goalie Kade Phipps made 27 saves in the loss.
Austin 1 @ MN Magicians 5 – Brendan Skarda and Jackson Nauss each scored twice to lead the Magicians to a 5-1 home win over the Bruins on Friday. It was all Magicians through the first two periods as they opened up a 3-0 lead with 1st period goals from both Skarda and Nauss, and then Skarda would add his second of the game with another goal in the 2nd period. The Bruins got on the board early in the 3rd period as Justin Brandt scored his 5th goal of the season, but the Magicians had back-to-back answers as Kyler Grundy and Nauss scored :14 seconds apart to make it a 5-1 final. Magicians goalie Isaiah Saville made 24 saves in the win, while Mads Sogaard took the loss with just four saves. Alex Schilling made 23 saves in relief.
Bismarck 1 @ Aberdeen 5 – Aberdeen forward Adam Pitters had a hat-trick as the Wings widened their lead in the Central Division with a 5-1 home win over Bismarck. The Wings opened up a 3-0 lead through the first two periods thanks to a 1st period goal from Jonathan Bendorf and two goals in the 2nd period from Zach Noble and Pitters. After Bismarck scored their lone goal of the game early in the 3rd period on Andrew Bellant’s first as a Bobcat, the Wings put the game on ice thanks to two more goals from Pitters, which completed his hat-trick. Matt Vernon made 15 saves in the win, while Ryan Ullan made 28 saves in the loss.
Brookings 3 @ Minot 1 – Adam Brizgala was outstanding in goal, making 36 saves to lead the Blizzard to their second straight win as they beat the Minotauros in Minot, 3-1. The Blizzard opened the scoring with a 1st period goal from Jimmy Elser. The Minotauros tied the game at 1-1 with a 2nd period goal from Grant Loven. Late in the 3rd period, the Blizzard netted the eventual game-winner as Haiden Karnick scored his 4th goal of the season and Connor Koviak would later add an empty-net goal. Samu Lonkila took the loss in goal for Minot, making 19 saves.
Coulee Region 1 @ Springfield 2 – Jr. Blues goalie Evan Fear made 43 saves to lead his team to an important 2-1 home win over the visiting Chill. Scoring was tough to come by, but the Jr. Blues found the back of the net first midway through the opening period as Dylan Rauh scored his 6th goal of the season. After a scoreless 2nd period, the Jr. Blues added to their lead as Ethan Stewart netted his 15th goal of the season. The Chill kept things close with their only goal of the game from Connor Zilisch later in the period, but it would be all Fear the Jr. Blues would allow. Chill goalie Emil Zetterquist made 40 saves in the loss.
Shreveport 4 @ Amarillo 3 (OT) – Recent NCAA Division I commit Cam Cook was a force, including setting up the OT-winner as the Mudbugs beat the Bulls in Amarillo. Things were even at 1-1 after the 1st period as Jared Domin opened the scoring for the Bulls, which was answered by a goal from Shreveport’s Roberts Baranovskis. In the 2nd period the Mudbugs took a 3-2 lead as Cook and Andrew Lane scored, while the Bulls got a goal from Billy Duma. Early in the 3rd period, Duma added his second goal of the game to tie things at 3-3 and set the stage for overtime. Cook dangled his way around the defense and slipped a pass to Jordan Fader for the game-winner. Mudbugs goalie Gustavs Grigals made 33 saves in the win, while Bulls goalie Jason Grande made 35 saves in the loss.
Lone Star 0 @ Corpus Christi 3 – In his first start since January 13th, Chad Veltri stopped all 25 shots that came his way for his first shutout of the season as the IceRays earned a split of their weekend home series against Lone Star thanks to a 3-0 win on Friday. After a scoreless 1st period, the IceRays got on the board in the 2nd period, in what would be the eventual game-winning goal from Jayson Dimizio. In the 3rd period Rylee St. Onge and Blake Coffey added a pair of goals to secure the 3-0 win. Brahmas goalie Harrison Feeney made 21 saves in the loss.
Janesville 1 @ MN Wilderness 2 (SO) – In a goaltender’s duel in Cloquet, the Minnesota Wilderness earned the extra point with a 2-1 shootout win on Friday. After a scoreless 1st period, the Jets were the first ones on the board in the 2nd period as Jack Vincent scored his 2nd goal of the season to give the road side a 1-0 lead. Late in the 3rd period, the Wilderness finally struck through as Eric Gotz netted his 8th goal of the season with less than three minutes remaining. After a scoreless overtime, Luke Dow scored the only shootout goal of the eight combined attempts to give the Wilderness the win. Both goalies sparkled in the game as Wilderness goalie Jacob Sibell made 26 saves and Janesville’s Garrett Nieto made 42 saves.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 @ Kenai River 2 – Knights goalie David Tomeo made 32 saves to lead the visiting Knights to a 3-2 win in Kenai River. The Knights opened the scoring in the 1st period, taking a 1-0 lead on Curtis Carlson’s 14th goal of the season. The Brown Bears took a 2-1 lead by scoring back-to-back goals in the 2nd period from Filip Karlsson and Sutton McDonald, but the Knights had an answer late in the period as a goal from Gabe Temple made it 2-2. Early in the 3rd period Mike Gelatt’s 10th goal of the season would make it a 3-2 edge for the Knights, as Tomeo shut the door the rest of the way. Brown Bears goalie Gavin Enright made 26 saves in the loss.