It was an exciting week for two of the remaining teams playing within the organization. The NAHL’s St. Cloud Norsemen hosted the 1st place Aberdeen Wings, and Minot in a busy 3 game weekend. The NA3HL’s Willmar Warhawks had a 2nd round clash with the top seeded North Iowa Bulls and a spot in the Fraser Cup Championship Tournament at stake. Both teams played back to back on Saturday at the MAC in St. Cloud. The Norsemen moved their game with Aberdeen up to 4 pm to accommodate the Warhawks, who hosted North Iowa in Game 2 of their series immediately following the Norsemen game.
Norsemen Salvage Weekend with win over Minot
St. Cloud, MN – Despite a late push, the St. Cloud Norsemen could not overcome their deficit as they fell to the Aberdeen Wing 4-2 on Friday night.
Mid-way through the first, Kevin MacKay scores off a rebound to give Aberdeen the lead. Late in the period, the Wings added to their lead with a power-play goal from Natan Vertes.
Early in the second, the Norsemen got on the scoreboard with Hunter Hanson’s fourth of the season, cutting the deficit in half. The Wings, again, capitalized on a power-play opportunity as Peyton Matsui reacquired the two-goal advantage.
In the third, the Norsemen clawed back within a goal with the first career goal for Thor Byfuglien before an empty-net goal from Jake Goldowski would secure the Aberdeen win.
With the loss, the Norsemen fall to 14-25-1 and will take on the Aberdeen Wings on Saturday, April 10 at 4:00PM in St. Cloud. Mark Shelley will provide the Play-By-Play on the Lyon Sheet Metal & Heating Norsemen Network beginning at 3:50PM on HockeyTV.
St. Cloud, MN – The St. Cloud Norsemen offense erupted in the first period as they defeated the Minot Minotauros 6-2 on Sunday night in St. Cloud.
St. Cloud grabbed the early lead with Brett Chorske’s 10th goal of the season before quickly adding to the advantage with Nik Hong’s eighth of the campaign. After killing off a mid-period penalty, the Norsemen added a third goal from Ryan O’Neill. Shortly after, the Norsemen chased Minot’s Keenan Rancier from the net with a fourth goal from Jack Reimann.
Minot got on the board in the second period, after re-inserting Rancier into the net, as Cade Stibbe’s deflected puck found the back of the net. A second Minot goal, this time from Jack Westlund, brought the Minotauros within two goals. Beyond the mid-way point of the frame, Cooper Gay scored his fifth of the season for the Norsemen before Logan Kittleson sniped the puck into the back of the net for the 6-2 lead.
With the win, the Norsemen improve to 15-26-1 and will take on the Minnesota Magicians on Thursday, April 15 at 7:00PM in St. Cloud. Mark Shelley will provide the Play-By-Play on the Lyon Sheet Metal & Heating Norsemen Network beginning at 6:50PM on HockeyTV.
Willmar’s Playoff Run Ends with Game 3 Loss
Willmar met North Iowa in the West Division Finals with a trip to the Fraser Cup on the line.
Willmar traveled to Mason City for Game 1 against the top seeded Bulls on Friday night. Trailing 1-0 late in the 1st period, Isaiah Thomas scored to tie the game at 1-1. Lewis Rowan and Dylan Gajewski assisted on Thomas’s 3rd goal of the post season. North Iowa scored the lone goal in the 2nd period, and then took a 3-1 lead at the 8:06 mark of the 3rd period. Dylan Gajewski scored his 2nd of the playoffs three minutes later off assists from Isaiah Thomas and Hunter Bjorge, to pull the Warhawks to within a goal at 3-2 but North Iowa scored the final two goals for a 5-2 win and a 1-0 series lead.
Willmar and North Iowa played Game 2 on Saturday night in St. Cloud MN. North Iowa took a 1-0 lead into the dressing rooms after twenty minutes of play, but Willmar responded with the lone 2nd period goal. It was Gavin Uckele scoring his 2nd goal of the post season with just over three minutes to play in the second with assists from Hunter Bjorge and Alex Kupka. Willmar then took the lead right out of the gate in the 3rd when Nate Cox scored off an assist from Jonah Jangula. The Warhawks slammed the door on the Bulls the rest of the way knotting up the series with the 2-1 victory. Lukas Haugen made 26 saves for the win in net setting up a series deciding Game 3 back in Iowa.
The deciding Game 3 was back in Mason City on Sunday, and for the 2nd week in a row the top seeded Bulls were taken to the brink. Willmar opened up the scoring about four minutes in with Isaiah Thomas scoring his 4th of the playoffs. Jonah Jangula and Dylan Gajewski picked up the assists. North Iowa tied the game late in the 1st period, added two more goals in the 2nd period and led 4-1 before Alex Kupka scored with just over three minutes to play. Thomas and Ben Johnson assisted on Kupka’s 2nd playoff goal. That was as close as Willmar got though falling 4-2 to end their playoff run.
Isaiah Thomas led Willmar with 8 points (4G, 4A) throughout the playoffs followed by Dylan Gajewski 6pts (2G, 4A) Alex Kupka 5pts (2G, 3A) and Jonah Jangula 5pts ( 5A ). Lukas Haugen carried the load in net starting all 5 games going 3-2 with a 2.60 goals against and a .916 save %. Willmar finishes their most successful season to date just one win away from a spot in the Fraser Cup Championship Tournament.
By Mark Thompson