The Lone Star Brahmas moved one step closer to their ultimate goal of raising the NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship Trophy by eliminating the division rival Topeka Roadrunners in the South Division Finals. After splitting with Topeka on home ice, the Brahmas went on the road to take two from the Roadrunners with a pair of one goal victories. The road to the championship does not get any easier this week as Lone Star will welcome the NAHL Central Division Champion Austin Bruins into the NYTEX Sports Centre for a Robertson Cup Semi-finals matchup.
Austin finished the regular season with a 38 – 11 – 11 record to claim their third consecutive Central Division crown. Their 87 points left them one point behind the Brahmas, as a result Austin came into the playoffs as the third overall seed. In round one of the Central Division playoffs Austin swept the Aberdeen Wings, advancing to face the Minot Minotauros. Minot pushed the Bruins to the brink in the only division finals to go the full five games.
The matchup with the Roadrunners did not get off to a good start for the Brahmas. While they took an early lead in game one of the series on a first period goal by Sebastian Vidmar, they watched Topeka score five unanswered goals for a 5 – 1 win. It looked as though the Brahmas had exercised that game one demon when they pulled out to a 4 – 0 lead midway through game two on a pair of goals by Cody Wickline and single tallies by Liam Stirtzinger and Roman Uchyn. However, the Roadrunners were not going to go away quietly and came roaring back with four goals of their own to force overtime. It was Storm Wahlrab who scored maybe the biggest goal of the season with an unassisted effort 3:53 into the extra period to send the home crowd into a frenzy and pull Lone Star back into the series. Game three on the road in Topeka saw the teams trade first period goals with Ludvig Larsson scoring late in the frame to knot the score at one. Topeka had the only scoring of the second setting up a third period in which the Brahmas had to fight their way back once again. Hunter Stanley pulled Lone Star even after a strong play by AJ Vanderbeck left the puck behind the Topeka netminder for Stanley to nudge into the goal. Uchyn had his second of the series with an unassisted goal to complete the comeback and put the Roadrunners on the brink of elimination. The fourth and deciding game was scoreless through the first 27:35 before Uchyn scored on the power play to break the ice. Topeka came back with a pair of goals late in the period to once again go into the third holding on to a slim lead. A Chad Guderian shorty at 10:14 of the final frame once again set up a trip to overtime where Sean Giles hammered home a Caleb Thompson rebound at 9:03 for the series winner.
Just like the Brahmas, Austin got off to a rough start in the finals series against Minot dropping game one by a score of 3 – 2 at home. After going down three, the Bruin’s Derek Olmschenk scored on the power play in the second and Josh Wilkins scored unassisted early in the third, but they could get no closer. Game two saw the Bruins score three times in the first with Alex Jasiek, JC Maclean and Luke Dietsch doing the damage. They carried a 3 – 1 lead into the final period where Alex Pettersson had an empty netter for the 4 – 1 final. Pettersson and Wilkins got them going in their first game on the road in Minot scoring just over a minute apart in the first. After a scoreless second Olmschenk and Nico Sturm sandwiched goals around a Minot tally to again take a 4 – 1 win. The Minotauros staved off elimination with a 4 – 3 win in game four. Austin’s only scoring in the first came from Liam Feeney as they went into the first intermission trailing 3 – 1. Minot added to their lead in the middle frame putting the game just out of reach. Luke Forfar and Jasiek scored for Austin in the third, but it was too little too late. In the deciding game five, the teams traded first period goals with Dietsch scoring for the Bruins. The second period belonged to Austin with Sturm, Wilkins and Trevor Boyd finding the back of the net. From there the Bruins held on for the win allowing Minot to score twice in the third, but not allowing them to complete the comeback.
Team Records In Post Season
W L OTL
Brahmas 6 1 0
Bruins 6 2 0
Overall the Brahmas finished the regular season with the leagues’ 7th best power play unit at 19.6% and the 2nd best penalty kill at 88.0%. Austin was 19th on the power play at 14.2% and tops in the NAHL at 90.2% on the penalty kill.
However, in the post season the teams power play units have gone in opposite directions. The Brahmas power play has all but disappeared converting on only 2 of 21 opportunities or a meager 9.5%. The penalty kill has held onto their regular season tenacity and set at 88.5% allowing 3 goals on 26 kills. Austin on the other hand has seen their power play jump to 38.1% in the playoffs scoring 8 goals in 21 opportunities. Their penalty kill is down slightly compared to the regular season at 84.8% on 5 goals allowed in 33 penalty kills. However, the Bruins penalty kill is at 63.6% on the road allowing 4 goals on 11 times short handed.
Post Season Goaltending Comparison
W L OTL SO GA GAA SV SV%
Brahmas 6 1 0 0 16 2.29 178 .918
Bruins 6 2 0 1 20 2.50 178 .899
Who is Hot Post Season
Brahmas (7 Games)
G A PTS
Sebastian Vidmar 2 5 7
Roman Uchyn 4 1 5
Ludvig Larsson 2 2 4
Oskar Andren 0 4 4
Cody Wickline 3 0 3
Bruins (8 Games)
G A PTS
Nico Sturm 6 4 10
Trevor Boyd 2 7 9
Alex Pettersson 2 6 8
Luke Dietsch 4 3 7
Alex Jasiek 2 5 7
Inside the Game
Lone Star has proven an ability to dig deep and fight to the end as three of their seven post season games have gone to overtime with the Brahmas winning all three.
Further evidence of just how closely matched these teams are, the Brahmas finished the regular season with a 2.17 GAA which was 2nd in the league, 6th with a 0.910 SV% and averaged 3.47 Goals Scored per Game, also 6th in the NAHL. Austin put up a 2.27 GAA for 3rd, a 0.907 SV% for 9th and averaged 3.50 Goals Scored per Game which was 4th best.
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Nico Sturm 6G – 4A comes in tied for 7th in post season scoring while Trevor Boyd 2G – 7A is tied for 9th and Alex Pettersson 2G – 6A is tied for 12th. Sebastian Vidmar 2G – 5A leads the Brahmas and is tied for 16th.
Roman Uchyn is tied for the league lead with 2 Game Winning Goals in the playoffs.
Zach Kennedy is 5th in post season PIMs with 27 in six games played while Trevor Boyd leads in minor penalties with 8 minutes in eight games played.
Jake Kupsky comes into the series ranked 2nd with a 1.67 GAA and 1st with a 0.936 SV%. Jake Kielly is 7th with a 2.17 GAA to go along with a 0.907 SV% and Evan Smith has a 3.00 GAA good for 15th and a 0.889 SV%.
Liam Feeney 1G – 6A is 2nd in defenseman scoring, Ian Scheid 2G – 3A is 5th and Sean Giles 1G – 2A is tied for 10th.
Roman Uchyn has goals in three straight games for the longest active streak in the playoffs.
Alex Pettersson is riding a seven game point streak coming into the series.
Austin is averaging 13.75 PIMs per game which is 6th while Lone Star is at 9.43 PIMs per game or 11th in the post season.
The Brahmas currently have 8 players who have signed NCAA commitments. None of the Bruin’s current roster have signed with an NCAA program to date.
Alex Carle – Merrimack College
Pat Egan – SUNY Plattsburgh
Hayden Hanson – Utica College
Jake Kupsky – Union College
Ludvig Larsson – Merrimack College
Alexey Solovyev – Bentley University
AJ Vanderbeck – Colorado College
Sebastian Vidmar – Union College