Austin Bruins 4 @ Topeka RoadRunners 3 (OT) (Austin wins best of three series, 2-1) – In a classic game to decide who would advance to the Robertson Cup Finals in Fairbanks, it was the Austin Bruins, who completed a two-game comeback by winning the decisive Game 3, 4-3 in overtime on Sunday against the Topeka RoadRunners. The win sends the Bruins to Fairbanks to compete against the Ice Dogs this upcoming weekend in a three-game series in the Robertson Cup Finals.
Of the three games in the Semi-Finals, Sunday’s was the most thrilling with each team answering one another’s goals. After a scoreless 1st period, Topeka got on the board first at 8:02 in the 2nd period. A misplay by a Bruins defender allowed forward Jasen Fernsler to knock in the puck, giving him his third goal in the last two games. Bruins forward Niko Hildenbrand tied the game at 1-1 as he knocked home a loose puck five minutes later, with forward Luke Dietsch grabbing the assist.
At the 7:58 mark of the 3rd period, Austin took its first lead of the contest, as forward Brian Bachnak threw a shot at the net from the side boards that squeezed through RoadRunners goaltender PJ Bridges. Minutes later, at 10:35, Jake Kamrass left the puck for trailing defenseman Tomas Nechala, who ripped a shot past Austin goalie Nick Lehr to make it 2-2. At 14:48, a bad turnover led to a shot for the Bruins, and a rebound in front gave defenseman Joe Schuldt his first goal of the postseason and gave Austin a 3-2 lead. A crucial penalty for Austin at 18:10 set up a Tyler Poulsen power-play goal to tie the game at 3-3, as forward Lucas Kohls knocked the net off its pegs.
In the overtime, Austin forward Drew Anderson finished the series just over two minutes into the extra period on a power play, tipping a pass from forward Jay Dickman past Topeka goalie PJ Bridges to give the Bruins the victory. Lehr made 29 saves in the win, while Bridges took the loss, making 21 saves.
The win advances the Bruins to the Robertson Cup Finals for the first time in team history. The three-game series will be hosted by the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and begin on Friday, May 9th.