The Minnesota Magicians picked up a single point on the road in Bismarck last weekend, and have a new opponent to contend with in their fight for the Central Division's final playoff spot. The Brookings Blizzard swept a pair of games against the Aberdeen Wings, drawing even with the Magicians in points (54) with only 2 games remaining in the regular season. Because the Magicians would lose a tie breaker with Brookings, they need to pick up more points than Brookings this weekend to earn a spot in the Central Division playoffs. The Aberdeen Wings also have a slim chance to make the playoffs, but the Magicians would win a tiebreaker with them if the two team's were to finish with the same amount of points. The Magicians will host the Bismarck Bobcats at Richfield Ice Arena for a pair of games, while the Blizzard will host the Minot Minotauros, and Aberdeen will play a pair of games vs. Austin at Riverside Arena. It is going to be an exciting weekend and anything can happen.
On Friday night in Bismarck, North Dakota, the Magicians looked to build off of their success from the previous weekend, a pair of victories over the Austin Bruins and Coulee Region Chill. The game started slowly, with a scoreless first period. Goals were once again hard to come by in the second period, with the only tally of the period coming from Bismarck at the 17-minute mark. In the third period, Bismarck scored once again to make the score 2-0 before the Magicians were finally able to break through. First, it was Braxton Collins finding the back of the net assisted by Travis Brown and Mason Palmer to make the score 2-1. A short time later, Michael Wilson tied the game for the Magicians on a goal assisted by Tanner Tweten and Casey Jerry. The game appeared to be headed to overtime which would have guaranteed the Magicians an important point in the standings, but Bismarck was able to sneak one past Magicians goaltender Will Ulrich with just under two-minutes to go in the game to steal a victory. Ulrich made 37 saves in the loss.
On Saturday, the Magicians came out hot with two first period goals. First, it was Zack Taylor finding the back of the net for his first career goal (John Peterson, Mitch Slattery) to give the Magicians an early advantage. Next, it was Michael Wilson with his 2nd goal of the weekend assisted by Casey Jerry and Derek Olmschenk to increase the Magic lead to 2-0. In the second period, Bismarck answered with 3 consecutive goals to take a 3-2 lead. Before the period ended, however, veteran forward Brady Heppner tied the game for the Magicians with an unassisted goal on excellent individual effort. The goal made Heppner the Magicians all-time career leader in goals scored, and he is now only two points shy of becoming the all-time leader in career points for the franchise as well. After a scoreless third period, the game headed to overtime tied at 3-3. In overtime, the Magicians hit a pipe and Bismarck scored on the ensuing rush down the ice to win the game and sweep the weekend. Magicians goaltender Will Ulrich was solid once again, stopping 37 shots despite taking the loss. The point earned by the Magicians allowed them to keep even with Brookings, who swept the Aberdeen Wings to put themselves back in playoff contention.
Up next for the Magicians is a weekend series at Richfield Ice Arena vs. the Bismarck Bobcats. The Magicians must earn more points than the Brookings Blizzard this weekend to get into the Central Division playoffs.