The Minnesota Magicans took a 2-0 lead over the Kenai River Brown Bears in the best-of-five Midwest Division finals with victories Friday and Saturday in Richfield, Minnesota, in North American Hockey League playoff action.
The Magicians won 3-2 on Friday and 7-2 on Saturday. Minnesota is now 5-0 in the playoffs after sweeping the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in the first round.
“They’re a good team and they’re rolling pretty good,” Kenai River interim head coach Josh Dubinsky said of the Magicians. “We’ve got to figure out a way to win a game Friday night and hope to turn the momentum of the series a little bit.”
Dubinsky said his team did not play well Saturday, but he also said the Bears are capable of coming back and winning the series.
“We just have to figure it out,” Dubinsky said. “We proved we are a good hockey team. We were able to beat Janesville, the top team in the division, in four games. We’re more than capable. We’ve just got to find a way to do it.”
Game 3 is a home game for Kenai River, but will be played at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota, at 4 p.m. AKDT on Friday. The Bears have moved hockey operations to the Midwest for the playoffs.
Friday, Minnesota’s Jack Cronin broke a 2-all tie with 4:41 left in the game to give the Magicians the victory.
“It was a good game,” Dubinsky said. “We came out a little flat but picked it up in the second half of the first period. We played well in the second period, but we didn’t have our best third and they won the game when it mattered.”
Eagle River’s Brandon Lajoie, assisted by Laudon Poellinger and Anchorage’s Ryan Reid, scored the lone goal of the first period. Will Svenddal tied things up in the second period for the Magicians.
Jake Seitz then put Minnesota up 3:46 into the third. Morgan Winters, assisted by Brandon McNamara and Theo Thrun, was able to tie the game with 7:09 to play.
“I don’t know if we were just outplayed or they wanted it more than us, or that we were feeling pretty good about ourselves after the second period,” Dubinsky said. “We came out flat and even though we were able to tie it up, it was their period the entire 20 minutes.”
Luke Pavicich had 34 saves for the Bears, while Andy Beran stopped 21 for the Magicians.
The Magicians were dominant Saturday, taking a 6-0 lead after the second period. Devlin McCabe and Gavin Best scored in the first period, while Brett Oberle scored twice in the second period, with McCabe and Longhi also lighting the lamp.
“Things were not the best after the second period tonight,” Dubinsky said of the locker room. “We tried to emphasize getting something going in the right direction to take into practice this week.
“We won the third period. That’s all you can ask for after being down 6-0 after two periods.”
Theo Thrun and Brandon McNamara scored in the third for the Bears, while Lleyton Roed scored for Minnesota.
Pavicich had 34 saves for Kenai River, while Beran stopped 26 for Minnesota.
In other Bears news, the team took forward Clint Levens, goalie Jonathan Williams and forward Brayden Stannard in the NAHL Supplemental Draft on Wednesday.
Magicians 3, Brown Bears 2
Kenai River 1 0 1 —2
Minnesota 0 1 2 —3
First period — 1. Kenai River, Lajoie (Poellinger, Reid), 17:07. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minnesota 1 for 2:00.
Second period — 2. Minnesota, Svenddal (Light, Kanta), 15:02. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minnesota 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 3. Minnesota, Seitz (McCabe, Roed), 3:46; 4. Kenai River, Winters (McNamara, Thrun), 12:51; 5. Minnesota, Cronin (Roed, McCabe), 15:19. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 8-10-5—23; Minnesota 9-14-14—37.
Goalies — Kenai River, Pavicich (37 shots, 34 saves); Minnesota, Beran (23 shots, 21 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 0 for 2; Minnesota 0 for 3.
Magicians 7, Brown Bears 2
Kenai River 0 0 2 —2
Minnesota 2 4 1 —7
First period — 1. Minnesota, McCabe (Roed, Seitz), 13:40; 2. Minnesota, Best (Cronin, Stein), 15:33. Penalties — Minnesota 2 for 4:00.
Second period — 3. Minnesota, McCabe (Roed), 4:26; 4. Minnesota, Oberle (Ferrandino, Best), 5:20; 5. Minnesota, Longhi (Falk, Laylin), 5:53; 6. Minnesota, Oberle (McCabe, Roed), 18:34. Penalties — Kenai River 1 for 2:00; Minnesota 1 for 2:00.
Third period — 7. Kenai River, Thrun (Wahlin, Morgan), pp, 8:51; 8. Minnesota, Roed (Longhi, Cronin), pp, 14:38; 9. Kenai River, McNamara (Poellinger, Pfister), 14:54. Penalties — Kenai River 3 for 14:00; Minnesota 2 for 12:00.
Shots on goal — Kenai River 11-6-11—28; Minnesota 17-13-11—41.
Goalies — Kenai River, Pavicich (41 shots, 34 saves); Minnesota, Beran (28 shots, 26 saves).
Power plays — Kenai River 1 for 3; Minnesota 1 for 2.