Austin Bruins prepare for NAHL Division Finals versus St. Cloud

Published: May. 5, 2023 at 7:22 AM CDT
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AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) – “It doesn’t matter what you did in the regular season. It’s about playing in the playoffs and what you’re going to do next game,” said coach Steve Howard.

The Austin Bruins swept their way through the Minot Minotauros in the opening round of the Robertson Cup Playoffs. Their opponent in the division finals will be the Saint Cloud Norsemen. In the regular season, the Bruins went 6-3-3 with the Norsemen.

“It’s usually a chess match whenever we see each other. That’s why we’ve had some very very close games,” added Howard. “Their penalty kill is a lot different than probably what we saw against Minot. they’re very aggressive, and we’re expecting to see them come at us pretty quick.”

Special teams will be crucial in this series. The Bruins have the top powerplay in the playoffs, but so do the Norsemen while on the penalty kill (100%).

“Powerplays and penalty kills are a big part of the playoffs,” said forward, Austin Salani. “If they shut us down on the powerplay, it’s going to be hard to win games. If we shut them down on their powerplays, it’s going to be hard for them to win. it’s going to come down to a few mistakes for each team, and whoever makes the least amount of those.”

“It’s definitely an important factor to who’s going to come out on top I think,” added forward, Gavin Morrissey. “Both teams are hot on their special teams, and it’s kind of just going to be who can strike first which is going to be the ultimate leader in that.”

Outside the glass, the Bruins still have home-ice advantage.

“The fans are a huge inspiration for us. we love coming here and seeing the stands packed, and it definitely gets us going every time they’re here,” stated Morrissey.

“We’re expecting the atmosphere to be great and loud. that always helps, and if you a few early, keep that momentum from the energy in the building going, and I think it’s going to be huge,” claimed Salani.

Even though it doesn’t feel like winter and there isn’t snow on the ground, the Bruins season isn’t over yet.

“The fact that it’s getting warm outside, that doesn’t mean you’re picking up the gold clubs, and you want to go outside and hang out in your shorts and enjoy that weather,” ended Howard. “It’s a good thing you’re playing hockey when it’s hot out, but you don’t turn the corner until the season’s over. so, we’re staying focused on the task at hand here and making sure we’re coming to the rink every day and getting prepared for the weekend...”

The Bruins open the best-of-five series with the Norsemen tomorrow at Riverside Arena. Games one and two will be in Austin with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. Game three will take place in Saint Cloud, May 12 at 7:00 p.m. Game four (if needed) will be in Saint Cloud next Saturday, and if the series does go all five games, the Bruins would host the final game of the series, Sunday, May 14 back at Riverside Arena.