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Friday Finals: Wild West will come down to the last day

March 31, 2012

Lawrence Cornellier scored twice to help Odessa beat Wichita Falls and clinch the South's fourth and final playoff spot.

Fresno 0 @ Wenatchee 6 - Wenatchee Wild goaltender Robert Nichols shattered the NAHL’s single-season record for goals-against average, and he did it in style by making 22 saves to tally his league-best 10th shutout of the season in a 6-0 Wild rout over the Fresno Monsters.  Former Bozeman IceDog goalie Matt Dalton (1.63), who now plays professionally in the KHL in Russia, held the league’s previous best single-season goals-against average, which he set in the 2005-06 season. Nichols will conclude the 2011-12 season with 1.49 goals-against average, unless he is pressed into service for the Wild’s final regular season game on Saturday. The Wild gave Nichols plenty of goal support starting with a 3-goal first period. Shawn Pauly started the goal surge just 32 seconds into regulation when he lit the lamp from the far post. Ben Carey made it 2-0 on a wrist shot from the near faceoff dot on a rush into the Fresno zone. Chris Kerr made it 3-0 on a power-play goal with 1:46 remaining in the first period when he knocked in Max McHugh’s centering feed from the low slot. Wenatchee added three more goals in the second period. Matt Cope scored the first of those markers on a feed from Carey 2:38 into the frame. Kerr scored his second goal of the contest, this one short-handed, at the 12:45 mark when he buried a pass from Pauly to complete a 2-on-1 situation. Carey scored his second goal of the contest to close out scoring with 4:59 remaining before the second intermission. Nichols had to earn his record-breaking game. He denied Riley Borer 1-on-1 early in the first period, blocked a pair of hard one-timers during a 2-man penalty-kill in the second frame and made a save on Brendan Bradley from point-blank range early in the third period. Boxscore

Aberdeen 3 @ Alexandria 4 – The Blizzard jumped out to leads of 3-0 and 4-1 before hanging on for 4-3 win at home over the visiting Wings.  The Blizzard scored the game’s first three goals off the sticks of Craig Lindegard, Tucker Coborn and Gage Torrel.  Ross Pavek answered early in the 3rd period for Aberdeen, but the Blizzard lead climbed back to three on a goal from Reid Sturos.  Late Wings goals from Trevor Husch and Joe Mottiqua weren’t enough. Boxscore

Odessa 3 @ Wichita Falls 1 – Lawrence Cornellier scored twice and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves as the Jackalopes clinched the 4th and final playoff spot in the South Division with a 3-1 win in Wichita Falls.  Ryan Doucet gave the Jacks a 1-0 lead in the 1st period.  Cornellier then scored twice in the 2nd period to increase the lead to 3-0.  A 3rd period goal from the Wildcats Matt Purmal ended Hellebuyck’s shutout bid. Boxscore

Chicago 2 @ St. Louis 10 – Joe Kalisz and Rance Hughes each had two goals and three assists for five points nights and Joe Birmingham also chimed in with a five point game as the Bandits blasted the Hitmen, 10-2.  St. Louis led 1-0 after the 1st period on a goal from TJ Sherman, but erupted for four goals in the 2nd period and five more in the 3rd period.  Frank Dichiara ended up with the eventual game-winner. Boxscore

Kalamazoo 7 @ Port Huron 4 – The K-Wings put themselves in the driver’s seat to capture the North Division title with a come-from-beind 7-4 win.  The K-Wings scored four times in the 3rd period to win the game and give them a one point lead atop the division heading into Saturday’s final game.  Kyle Gattelaro had a hat-trick and Andrew Graves scored twice for Kalamazoo.  The winner of Saturday’s game in Kalamazoo will win the North Division. Boxscore

Jamestown 0 @ Traverse City 3 – Kyle Laslo made 24 saves for his 4th shutout of the season as the North Stars blanked the Ironmen.  The North Stars scored a goal in each of the three periods as Jared Van Wormer lit the lamp in the 1st period, Michal Toman scored in the 2nd period and Mitchell Snider scored in the 3rd period.  Joe Ballmer made 30 saves in the loss for Jamestown. Boxscore

Austin 2 @ Coulee Region 1 – In a goaltending battle between Austin’s Tyler Bruggeman and the Chills Aaron Davis, it was Bruggeman who came out on top making 33 saves in a 2-1 win.  AJ Reid gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal in the 1st period.  Chris Hughes answered back for the Chill early in the 3rd period, but Jeremy Finger scored the game-winning goal with just over eight minutes remaining. Boxscore

Springfield 1 @ Janesville 4 – In a preview of next weekend’s playoffs, the Jets played some solid defense and got some timely scoring in a 4-1 win over the Jr. Blues.  Playing without both regular goalies, the Jets started newcomer Nate Teuscher, who responded with his first NAHL win, making 19 saves.  Eric Carlson, John Olen, William Preston and Pijus Rulevicius all scored for the Jets, while Chris Sitler had the lone goal for Springfield. Boxscore

Minot 2 @ Bismarck 6 – The Bobcats got two goals from Castan Sommer and a four point night from Tyler Richter as they snapped their losing skid with a 6-2 win over visiting Minot.  Adam Knochenmus and Richter scored in the 1st period, Sommer added two goals in the 2nd period along with another from Frank DeAugustine and Nick Miglio scored in the 3rd period to complete the scoring for the Bobcats.  Hans Drawbert and Denis Dalidovich had the goals for the Minotauros. Boxscore

Corpus Christi 1 @ Texas 3 – Jack Prince picked up three assists and in the process became they all-time leading scorer in Texas Tornado history as Texas eliminated the IceRays from the playoff race with a 3-1 win.  Prince assisted on all three goals, which came from Jordan Greenberg, Marc Biggs and Drew Mayer.  AJ Jarosz scored the lone goal for Corpus Christi.  Anthony Stolarz made 44 saves in the loss, while Hunter Leisner made 18 saves in the win. Boxscore

Kenai River 3 @ Alaska 2 (OT) – In one of the more thrilling games of the night, Brown Bears forward Sean Muller scored in overtime to keep Kenai River’s playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 win.  With a win on Saturday against Alaska, Kenai River would be in the playoffs.  Marek Hemsky and Matt Thompson had the other goals for Kenai River, while Cobi Smith-Mass and Tanner Fahlstedt scored for Alaska. Boxscore

Dawson Creek 5 @ Fairbanks 6 – JT Osborn had a hat-trick to take over the NAHL goal-scoring lead, but it was Max Birkinbine’s goal with just :19 seconds remaining that gave the Ice Dogs the 6-5 come-from-behind win.  Fairbanks scored four times in the 3rd period.  Ryan Matthews scored twice in the loss for the Rage.  Sean O’Rourke, who just committed to Ferris State this week, had five assists for Fairbanks and Rudy Sulmonte had two goals and an assist. Boxscore

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