Austin Bruins blast Black Bears in opener of Robertson Cup semis
Trent Wiemken recorded his second shutout of the playoffs and Matys Brassard scored twice for Austin
BLAINE, Minn. — Ocean Wallace shook his head and smiled when asked about his goalie.
There aren’t many more superlatives that can be used to describe the way Trent Wiemken has played for the Austin Bruins this season. And Wallace, a second-year Bruins forward, couldn’t be happier that Wiemken is the guy behind him on the ice, not the guy he has to try to score against.
“Trent’s unreal,” Wallace said late Friday evening at Fogerty Arena. “I was talking about this with a couple of teammates. There aren’t many goalies you can have who, every single game you go into, you just know exactly what you’re going to get from the kid. It’s the same game all the time. He’s someone you can really rely on and we couldn’t ask for anything else out of a goalie.”
Wiemken was at his best — which is saying something, considering the way he’s played in recent weeks — Friday night. He was sharp from the start, following the puck, making the right decisions about poke-checks and when to play it up to his forwards. And, of course, making big save after big save. The Fargo native made 27 saves in all to backstop the Bruins to a 4-0 win against the Maryland Black Bears in Game 1 of the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup semifinals.
Game 2 of the best-of-3 series is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday. A Game 3, if needed, is scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m.
“They were putting a lot of pressure on us at the beginning of the second (period) there,” Wiemken said. “They weren’t getting a whole lot of shots through, but I just have to stay dialed in, take it one shot at a time. I know the guys in front of me will do their job, I just have to do mine.”
After making a total of 11 saves through the first two periods, Wiemken was outstanding in the third, stopping all 16 shots the Black Bears threw at him over the final 20 minutes, as they pressed to snap his shutout bid.
Wiemken shut them down, though, and made two goals from Matys Brassard, one from Wallace and one from defenseman Jack Malinski hold up.
Brassard scored on a power play 6 minutes into the game, then scored again 8 seconds into the second period for a 2-0 lead. Wallace’s goal, which gave Austin a 3-0 advantage, came with just more than 3 minutes to play in the second period, and gave the Bruins some breathing room.
Wallace credited the play of his linemates, Ethan Lindahl and Sam Chrisitano.
“As a line and as a team, we take pride in working hard down low, keeping the puck moving down low,” Wallace said, “and making power moves to get the puck to the net.
“Lindy made a good play to me. I think I spun off the (Maryland defenseman) pretty well to give myself a little time and space, then was able to use my range and hands to get it past the goalie far-side.”
Malinski added a power-play goal in the third period, threading a point shot through traffic that beat Black Bears goalie William Hakansson high to the glove side.
Austin now has two chances to wrap up the series, but will do its best to not need both.
“No doubt we expect an even tougher game (Saturday),” Wallace said. “You see the score tonight and that says something, but they’re going to say ‘let’s wash that one away.’ They believe in themselves and we believe in ourselves. If we stick to our structure, I think we’ll like the result.”
NOTES: This was the second all-time meeting between the Bruins and the Black Bears. Their only previous matchup was on Sept. 22, 2018, at the NAHL Showcase, also in Blaine. Austin won that game 4-3 on an overtime goal by Andy Willis. … Maryland head coach and GM Clint Mylymok is the uncle of former Bruins forward and captain Connor Mylymok. Connor has transferred to Niagara University, just north of Buffalo, N.Y. … Maryland’s team includes forwards Magnus Gadowsky (son of Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky) and Kareem El-Bashir (son of Tariq El-Bashir, Washington Capitals beat writer for The Athletic and a rinkside contributor for TNT).
How They Scored
• Austin 1, Maryland 0. Matys Brassard (Damon Furuseth, Jimmy Goffredo) 6:13. Brassard enters the offensive zone with speed on a power play and snaps a quick shot past Maryland goalie William Hakansson. It’s the seventh time in eight playoff games the Bruins have scored first.
• Austin 2, Maryland 0. M. Brassard (Isaak Brassard) :08. Off the opening faceoff, Isaak Brassard dumps the puck into Maryland’s end, it takes an odd hop off the end board to the front of the goal. Matys gathers it and shoots it into an open net before Hakansson can recover.
• Austin 3, Maryland 0. Ocean Wallace (Sam Christiano, Giuseppe Fiorillo) 16:56. Wallace wins a puck battle along the boards behind the Maryland net. He walks it to the front and tucks it past Hakansson.
• Austin 4, Maryland 0. Jack Malinski (Gavin Morrissey, Walter Zacher) 2:37. With time ticking down in a power play, Morrissey sends the puck to Malinski in the right circle. The Bruins’ captain sends a wrist shot top corner for Austin’s second power-play goal of the game.
PB’s 3 Stars
• No. 1: Trent Wiemken, Austin. The Bruins goalie did what he’s done all year — have his team’s back in all situations. Wiemken was dialed in from the start Friday night, officially making 27 saves to record his second shutout of the postseason.
• No. 2: Matys Brassard, Austin. Listed as a fourth-liner, playing like a first-liner. Brassard scored a pair of goals — including the game winner 6:03 into the game, then another just 8 seconds into the second period.
• No. 3: Ocean Wallace, Austin. The veteran forward, playing in his 110th game as a Bruin, scored 24th career goal, beating a Maryland defender off the endwall and powering a shot past Black Bears goalie William Hakansson with 3:04 left in the second period for a 3-0 lead.
BRUINS 4, BLACK BEARS 0
Austin 1-2-1 — 4
Maryland 0-0-0 — 0
First period — 1. AUS, Matys Brassard 3 (Damon Furuseth 3, Jimmy Goffredo 3) 6:13 (pp). Second period — 2. AUS, M. Brassard 4 (Isaak Brassard 3) :08. 3. AUS, Ocean Wallace 2 (Sam Christiano 1, Giuseppe Fiorillo 2) 16:56. Third period — 4. AUS, Jack Malinski 3 (Gavin Morrissey 9, Walter Zacher 4) 2:37 (pp).
Shots on goal — AUS 4-7-5 — 16; MRD 3-6-16 — 27. Goalies — AUS, Trent Wiemken (W, 7-0-1; 27 saves-27 shots); MRD, William Hakansson (L, 6-2-0; 12 saves-16 shots). Power-play opportunities — AUS 2-for-3; MRD 0-for-1. Penalties — AUS 1-2 minutes; MRD 3-6 minutes.