Friday Finals: Upsets reign supreme in Fraser Cup Playoffs
West Division Semi-Finals, Game 2: Willmar 3 vs. Granite City 1 (Willmar wins series, 2-0) – Lukas Haugen made 31 saves as the #3-seeded Willmar WarHawks finished off a sweep of the Granite City Lumberjacks and moved onto the West Division Finals thanks to a 3-1 win in Game 2 of the series. Willmar opened the scoring in the 1st period thanks to a goal from Ben Johnson. The Lumberjacks answered back early in the 2nd period thanks to a goal from Troy Dahlheimer. Late in the 3rd period, the WarHawks netted the game-winner with under a minute remaining in regulation from Isaiah Thomas. Dylan Gajewski would add an empty-net goal to secure the win and series. Bailey Huber made 33 saves in the loss.
West Division Semi-Finals, Game 1: Alexandria 2 vs. North Iowa 1 (OT) (Alexandria leads series, 1-0) – Thanks to 41 saves from Atticus Kelly, the Alexandria Blizzard kept the upset train rolling along in the West Division as they claimed Game 1 of the series in overtime over the Bulls. After a scoreless 1st period, the Blizzard got on the board late in the 2nd period thanks to a goal from Wesley Johnson. It stayed that way until late in the 3rd period as Garrett Freeman equalized for the Bulls. Just 1:29 into overtime, Sean Kenny capitalized on a Bulls turnover at the blueline for the OT-winner. Bulls goalie Carsen Stokes made 22 saves in the loss.
Central Division Semi-Finals, Game 2: Peoria 4 vs. St. Louis 2 (Peoria wins series, 2-0) – The Mustangs got a hat-trick and an assist from Ethan Chesney as they swept the series from the Jr. Blues thanks to a 4-2 win in St. Louis on Friday. Things looked good for the Jr. Blues early in the contest as they opened up a 2-0 lead in the 1st period with goals from Riley Howse and Tony Andrews. It was all Mustangs after that, as they tied the game at 2-2 in the 2nd period with goals from Chesney and Tony Campise, and then Chesney would add two more goals in the 3rd period to complete the hat-trick and win. Cole Walter made 21 saves in the win, while Owen Carlson made 33 saves in the loss.
Central Division Semi-Finals, Game 1: Rochester 9 vs. Oregon 1 (Rochester leads series, 1-0) – Peyton Hart and Cole Gibson each scored twice to lead the Grizzlies to a comfortable 9-1 win in Game 1 of the series. It was Oregon who got on the board early in the 1st period thanks their lone goal from Drew Robertson. After that, it was all Grizzlies, as they answered with four goals in the 1st period, including the first from Hart and Gibson and others from Joey Malugani and Dylan Schneider. Rochester added three more goals in the 2nd period as Gibson scored his second goal and Teppei Ueno and Hunter Wilmes also scored. In the 3rd period, Garrett Smith and Hart completed the scoring. Shane Soderwall made 23 saves in the win, while Cole Garver took the loss, making 27 saves.
East Division Semi-Finals, Game 1: Sharks 2 vs. Generals 1 (Sharks lead series, 1-0) – Sharks goalie Artem Lantukh made an astounding 70 saves to lead his club to a Game 1 win over the heavily-favored Generals. Lantukh, who stopped 75 of 80 shots in the East Division Play-In series earlier in the week, was almost unbeatable in the game as the Generals managed just a single goal with less than three minutes remaining in regulation from Tyler Kaminski. Mason Mulneaux and Matthew Anastasio both scored in the 3rd period to lead the Sharks to the win. Patrick Colburn made 18 saves in the loss.
East Division Semi-Finals, Game 1: Titans 5 vs. Jr. Hat Tricks 4 (Titans lead series, 1-0) – The lower-seeded upset train continued in the East as the Titans got two goals and an assist from Philippe Doucette in a 5-4 win in Game 1. The Titans took a 2-0 in the 1st period with goals from Doucette and Brandon Avezov. The Jr. Hat Tricks took a 3-2 lead in the 2nd period with goals from Nikita Kovalev, Dylan Webber, and Nate Mastrony. The Titans answered back in the in 3rd period with three goals, including the game-winner from Doucette and others from George Haigley and Zachary Cafaro. Misha Mshar had the other goal for Danbury. Ethan Kavanaugh made 42 saves in the win, while Nathan Hadley made 19 saves in the loss.
Frontier Division Semi-Finals, Game 2: Gillette 3 vs. Great Falls 2 (OT) (Series tied, 1-1) – Declan Young scored a power play goal late in the first overtime to lead the Wild to a 3-2 win over Great Falls and set up a winner-take-all Game 3 on Saturday. The Americans opened up a 2-0 lead in the opening eight minutes of the game with goals from Alex Jackson and Brindamour Beard. The Wild answered with goals from Brock Trboyevich and Tristan Baker to knot the game at 2-2. Young scored with a snap shot that was played through a screen. Alex Shaults, who came into the game after the first two Americans goals, stopped all 45 shots in saw in the win, while Ben Winkler made 61 saves in the loss.
Frontier Division Semi-Finals, Game 1: Sheridan 4 vs. Missoula 2 (Sheridan leads series, 1-0) – Derek Humphreys scored twice to lead Sheridan to a 4-2 win in Game 1 of their series against Missoula. After a scoreless 1st period, the Hawks got on the board in the 2nd period thanks to a shorthanded goal from Justin Schwartzmiller. Missoula tied the game early in the 3rd period on a goal from Gavin Tritt. Sheridan would regain the lead less than two minutes later with a goal from Jacob Cummings. Missoula would again tie the game on a goal from Shane Dotto. Humphreys would then add two goals later in the 3rd period to secure the win. Christian Wong-Ramos made 31 saves in the win, while Maxim Currie made 50 saves in the loss.
South Division Semi-Finals, Game 1: Texas Brahmas 6 vs. Atlanta 1 (Brahmas lead series, 1-0) – The South Division went true to form on night one of the playoffs, which included the defending Fraser Cup Champion Texas Brahmas cruising to a 6-1 win in Game 1. Recently committed Jack Cooper had two goals and an assist in the win. Texas jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 1st period with goals from Cooper, Mason Mara, and Tyler Blanchard. Cooper added his second of the game in the 2nd period to make it 4-0. The Capitals struck for their lone goal early in the 3rd period off the stick of Nicholas Cyprian, but the Brahmas added two more goals from Jacob Kalandyk and Danny Barry to secure the 6-1 win. Dolan Gilbert made 27 saves in the win, while Matthew Genter made 42 saves in the loss.
South Division Semi-Finals, Game 1: Oklahoma City 5 vs. El Paso 0 (Oklahoma City leads series, 1-0) – Olivier Charbonneau stopped all 26 shots that came his way as the Blazers cruised to a 5-0 win in Game 1. Anton Thelander had a hat-trick to pace the Blazers offense in the win. All of the Blazers scoring came in a 14-minute stretch in the 2nd period as Thelander scored three times and Artem Korolev and Petr Philippov also added goals. Ryan Nocerino made 23 saves in the loss.