Posted by: Feldman
Feels like yesterday we were sitting in Riverside Arena in Austin, watching the longest game in North American Hockey League history. But that 4-overtime marathon in Game 1 of last year's Robertson Cup Finals doesn't mean much to a majority of the players who will be on the Riverside ice tonight.
For the first time since the Minnesota Wilderness swept the Austin Bruins in the best-of-3 2015 Robertson Cup Finals, the teams will meet, at 7:05 tonight in Austin and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in Cloquet.
So much is new on both sides: The entire coaching staff and all but four players for Austin weren't around back in May for the team's second consecutive appearance in the Finals. The Wilderness have a slight edge in returning players, with six guys back who were on their Robby Cup roster, and, of course, head coach Corey Millen is also back.
One thing hasn't changed for Austin under first-year head coach Kyle Grabowski and assistants Keenan Kelly and Brad Clayton: The Bs enter this series in a tie for first place in the NAHL Central Division. Austin (5-3-0, 10 points) is tied with Minot (4-1-2, 10 points) after the Bruins swept a home-and-home against division rival Brookings last weekend.
The Wilderness are 4-3-1 overall, but 4-1-1 since dropping their first two games of the season.
Here's a look at this weekend's series:
AUSTIN BRUINS vs./at MINNESOTA WILDERNESS
When, where: 7:05 p.m. tonight, Riverside Arena, Austin; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Northwoods Credit Union Arena, Cloquet
Records: Wilderness 4-3-1 (9 points; 3rd, Midwest Division); Austin 5-3-0 (10 points; T-1st, Central Division)
Recent history: This weekend's games are the first two of four between the teams this season. They'll play again at Austin on Dec. 18 and at Cloquet on Jan. 7. ... The Wilderness swept the Bruins, 2-0, in the NAHL Robertson Cup Finals last season. The Wilderness were 5-2-3 against the Bruins in 2014-15; Austin was 5-4-1.
Coaches: Wilderness, Corey Millen (3rd season, 92-37-16 overall); Austin, Kyle Grabowski (1st season, 5-3-0).
Wilderness scoring leaders: F Jacob Hamacher, 5-7, 156 (2-5--7); F Tyler Cline, 5-9, 180 (2-5--7); F Koby Bender, 6-1, 196 (4-2--6); D Tyler Vold, 5-10, 167 (1-5--6).
Wilderness goalie leaders: Chase Munroe, 6-4, 216 (4-1-1, 2.00, .921); Dyllan Lubbesmeyer 5-11, 177 (0-2-0, 4.62, .809).
Bruins scoring leaders: F Jade Miller, 5-9, 180 (7-3--10); F Justin Misiak, 5-10, 170 (3-6--9); F Gilbert Gabor, 6-4, 220 (1-7--8); F Dawson DiPietro, 5-11, 170 (3-3--6).
Bruins goalie leaders: Kris Carlson, 6-2, 180 (3-1-0, 2.50, .919); Austin Smith, 6-2, 170 (2-1-0, 2.01, .909, 1 SO).
Weekend notes: Bruins goalie Kris Carlson is the reigning NAHL Central Division Star of the Week. He started and played all of both games against Brookings, stopping a total of 51 of 55 shots he faced. He made 24 saves in a 4-1 win Friday, then followed with 27 saves in a 6-3 win on Saturday in the Bs home opener. ... Bruins forward Dawson DiPietro had a goal in both games last weekend, including the game winner on Friday, and has five points in his past three games. ... Bs defenseman Will Riedell recorded his first multi-point game with Austin, notching two assists in Saturday's win. ... F Justin Misiak is second on the team in scoring, with nine points. He had a goal and two assists in Saturday's victory. ... Wilderness goalie Chase Munroe hasn't allowed more than two goals in any of his last six appearances. ... Forwards Koby Bender (4-2--6) and Ryan Bloom (4-1--5) are the only Wilderness players with more than two goals this season. Thirteen players have scored at least once for Minnesota.
NAHL CENTRAL DIVISION STANDINGS
TEAM ... W-L-OTL ... Pts.
Austin ... 5-3-0 ... 10
Minot ... 4-1-2 ... 10
Aberdeen ... 4-2-0 ... 8
Brookings ... 4-4-0 ... 8
Bismarck ... 2-5-0 ... 4
Mn Magicians ... 2-4-0 ... 4
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Every week, we'll spotlight a former Bruin or Bruins who have gone on to play at the college or pro level. This week's Blast is:
CODY DIXON, D, 2012-13
With the Bs: Dixon was traded to the Bruins early in the 2012-13 season from the Springfield Jr. Blues and he became Austin's top offensive defensman. Dixon finished his season with 16-28--44 in 64 total NAHL games, including six games with Springfield and eight playoff games with the Bs.
Where is he now?: The Hales Corner, Wis., native turned 23 on Sept. 30. He spent the 2013-14 season with NCAA Division III University of Massachusetts-Boston, where scored five goals and had eight total points. He transferred closer to home last season, to Concorida University-Wisconsin, also a D-3 school. CUW is in Mequon, a northern suburb of Milwaukee. He played in 25 games for CUW last season and recorded 14 points, the fifth-most by a defenseman in team history. He'll be a junior for the Falcons this winter and wears No. 63.