Friday night, the Lone Star Brahmas opened their NAHL Robertson Cup Semi-Finals series against the visiting Austin Bruins at the NYTEX Sports Centre. The matchup of the second and third seeded teams came about when the Brahmas won a pair of road games against the Topeka Roadrunners to claim the NAHL South Division Title and advance to the next round. Austin earned their second consecutive trip to the Semi-Finals by downing a game Minot Minotauros squad in five games.
After a spirited first 18 plus minutes of play in which the Bruins controlled the first half of the period and the Brahmas coming back to get the best of the second half, Austin broke through at 18:53 on a Trevor Boyd breakaway. On the play Alex Jasiek grabbed a loose puck in the Bruin’s defensive zone and hit Boyd at center ice. He went streaking the other way with Johan Steen in hot pursuit. Steen got to Boyd, but he managed to get a shot off that made it through Jake Kupsky for the lead. Unfortunately the Bruins were not done and Nico Sturm dug one off the side of the net where Kupsky though he had it frozen and pulled it around the near side to put it under the Brahmas netminder. Time of the goal was 19:42 with assists going to Jacob Kullberg and Ian Scheid.
The first penalty of the night came with 11:11 to go in the middle frame when Sean Giles was whistled for a trip in a scrum in the corner to Kupsky’s right, giving the Bruins’ hot power play the first opportunity. The Lone Star penalty kill stood tall and not only held Austin at bay, but generated some pressure of their own. However, neither team was able to find the twin in the middle frame setting up a third period where the Brahmas would attempt to dig out of a two goal hole.
At 2:52 of the third a faceoff to Kupsky’s right resulted in another Bruins tally. Alex Petersson lined up on the wing at the near halfwall and as soon as the puck dropped he made a beeline for the high slot. Sturm pulled the draw back to Scheid at the point and he immediately moved it to Petersson who put it behind Kupsky before he could react.
It didn’t take Lone Star long to respond on the power play. Oskar Andren got it started when he put the puck behind the Austin cage for Sebastian Vidmar. Vidmar skated out the near side, curled to the front and ripped one just wide of the far post. Ludvig Larsson played the carom off the boards and rifled it over Jake Kielly’s left shoulder. The Larsson goal came at the 3:53 mark. However the one power play goal is all the Brahmas could muster and they dropped game one by a score of 3 – 1.
Austin led in the shots on goal battle 20 – 17. The Brahmas were the only ones to cash in on the power play going 1 – 4 while holding the Bruins off the board on their only attempt.
The teams will meet again on Saturday night at 7:30 with the Brahmas backs against the walls in a must win situation. If Lone Star pulls out a win in game two it will set up a winner take all contest on Sunday at 5:30.