Home teams win to grab early lead in Division Finals
East Division Finals, Game 1: Maryland 1 @ Maine 4 (Maine leads series 1-0) - James Philpott and Luke Antonacci each scored in the first period and that would be enough to lift the Maine Nordiques over the Maryland Black Bears in Game 1 of the East Division Finals. Philpott scored on the power play to get the Nordiques on the board first. Antonacci notched his second goal of the postseason about seven minutes later with help from Isaiah Fox and Tyler Gaulin. Josh Nixon would cut into the lead before the end of the first period. The score would remain the same until Aidan Connolly scored an empty net goal to add some insurance. Caden Pattison would secure the game with an empty net goal of his own to give the Nordiques a 4-1 victory in the game and a 1-0 series lead. Tyriq Outen stopped 23 of 24 shots to win his fourth contest of the playoffs while Hannes Kollen made 25 stops in the loss.
Midwest Division Finals, Game 1: Kenai River 2 @ MN Magicians 3 (Minnesota leads series 1-0) - Jack Cronin’s goal with just 4:41 remaining in regulation as the Minnesota Magicians stayed perfect in the postseason with a 3-2 win over the Kenai River Brown Bears. Brandon Lajoie gave Kenai River the lead with just 2:53 remaining in the opening period but Will Svenddal tied things up with about five minutes remaining in the second. Jake Seitz gave the Magicians their first lead of the game with his second goal of the playoffs but that lead wouldn’t last too long as Morgan Winters tied the game with his third goal of the postseason. That set the stage for Cronin’s game winner as Lleyton Roed and Devlin McCabe each picked up their second assist of the night. Andy Beran ran his playoff record to 4-0 as he denied 21 of 23 Kenai River shots. Luke Pavicich did all he could to keep his team in the game by making 34 saves on 37 shots.
Central Division Finals, Game 1: Bismarck 3 @ Aberdeen 5 (Aberdeen leads series 1-0) - Clayton Cosentino’s goal at the 10:03 mark of the third period was the difference as the Aberdeen Wings took Game 1 of the Central Division Finals 5-3 over Bismarck. The Wings struck early as Will Arquiett scored just 99 seconds into the game. Christian Abrams added to the lead about five minutes later to put the Wings up by two. Ryan Taylor brought the Bobcats within one with his second of the playoffs. Payton Matsui got the Wings lead back to two goals with a goal in the closing seconds of period two. Luke Gramer and Austin Schwartz would then find the back of the net for Bismarck to tie the game midway through the third. Just 10 seconds after Bismarck tied it, Cosentino was alone on Ian Shane, went behind the netminder and bounced the puck off of the goaltender’s skate and into the back of the net. Jake Goldowski would chip in an empty net goal to seal the win for the Wings. Jake Sibell improved to 4-1-1 in the postseason as he made 26 saves for Aberdeen. Shane turned aside 29 of 33 shots.
South Division Finals, Game 1: Wichita Falls 3 @ Shreveport 4 (Shreveport leads series 1-0) - Cole Hudson made 32 saves on the night and held off a late charge from Wichita Falls as the Shreveport Mudbugs clawed their way to a 4-3 win in Game 1 of the South Division Finals. Ryan Robinson lit the lamp first for Wichita Falls but Connor Gatto had the answer just three and a half minutes later. The second period was all Shreveport as Austin Brimmer, Billy Feczko and Giovanni Procopio all found the back of the net to get the Mudbugs to a 4-1 advantage. In the third period, the Warriors gave it everything they had and closed the gap to just one as Drake Usher and Drew Vieten scored in the final minutes. It would be too little, too late as the Warriors ran out of time and the Mudbugs survived. Owen Bartoszkiewicz suffered his first playoff loss as he stopped 28 shots.