Road wins by Blazers, Titans, Americans shake up Division Finals
South Division Finals, Game 1: Oklahoma City 6 @ TX Brahmas 3 (Oklahoma leads series, 1-0) – A three-goal 1st period and balanced scoring attack led the Blazers to a 6-3 road win in Game 1 of the South Finals over the defending Champion Brahmas. The Blazers led 3-0 after one period thanks to goals from Tommy Duren, Tristan Rand, and Michael Onda, who all scored their first goals of the playoffs. The Brahmas tried to comeback in the 2nd period with three goals from Mason Mara, Danny Finegan, and Blake Rothstein, but the Blazers held stong and finished the game off with goals from Noah Roitman, Samuel Miller, and Petr Philippov to secure the 6-3 win. Blazers goalie Olivier Charbonneau made 22 saves in the win, while Dolan Gilbert made 29 saves in the loss.
Central Division Finals, Game 2: Peoria 1 @ Rochester 6 (Series tied, 1-1) – The Grizzlies exploded for six goals in a 13-minute span late in the 2nd period and early into the 3rd period as they forced a third and decisive Game 3 in the Central Division Finals thanks to a 6-1 win on Friday. Things looked good for the Mustangs as they opened up a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Connor Bennett. The tide turned late in the 2nd period as the Grizzlies woke up from hibernation with three goals in a :52-second stretch from Blake Arneson, Joey Malugani, and Dylan Schneider to take a 3-1 lead. In the 3rd period, the Grizzlies added three more goals from Teppei Ueno, Joey Fodstad, and Hunter Wilmes to secure the 6-1 win. Shane Soderwall made 18 saves in the win. Cole Walter, who was lifted after two periods, made 14 saves in the loss.
East Division Finals, Game 1: Titans 5 @ Generals 0 (Titans lead series, 1-0) – Philippe Doucette scored twice and Ethan Kavanaugh stopped all 49 shots that came his way for his first shutout of the season as the Titans blanked the Generals in Game 1 of the East Finals, 5-0. Doucette scored in the 1st period to put the Titans up 1-0. Jonah Sabatini scored in the 2nd period to make it 2-0. Doucette, along with Brandon Avezov and Nick Byron would all add 3rd period goals to make it a 5-0 final. Patrick Colburn took the loss in goal, making 20 saves.
Frontier Division Finals, Game 2: Americans 7 @ Hawks 3 (Series tied, 1-1) – The Americans kept their season alive and handed the Hawks their only loss at home this season thanks to a 7-3 win in Game 2. Bryson Fletcher and Micah Serino each scored twice and Thomas Gazich had four assists in the win. The game was close in the 1st period as the Americans led 2-1 thanks to goals from Serino and Alex Jackson, while Nathan Gilleshammer scored for the Hawks. The Americans blew the game wide open in the 2nd and 3rd period with five consecutive goals, including two from Fletcher, another from Serino and others from Garret Weisenburger and Jake Hayes. Down 7-1, the Hawks potted two goals late in the 3rd period from Brice French and Jacob Cummings. Americans goalie Ben Winkler made 42 saves in the win. Hawks goalies Christian Wong-Ramos and James Downie combined for 28 saves in the loss.
West Division Finals, Game 1: Willmar 2 @ North Iowa 5 (North Iowa leads series, 1-0) – Max Savaloja scored twice and Carsen Stokes made 30 saves to lead the Bulls to a 5-2 win in Game 1 of the West Finals. Things were even at 1-1 after the 1st period as Carson Jones scored for the Bulls and Isaiah Thomas answered for the WarHawks. The Bulls then took a 3-1 lead with back-to-back goals from Caden Smith and Savaloja. Willmar cut the lead down to 3-2 with a goal midway through the 3rd period from Dylan Gajewski, but an answer just :13 seconds later from Savaloja and an empty-net goal from Sota Isogai secured the win. WarHawks goalie Lukas Haugen made 26 saves in the loss.