The Minnesota Magicians swept a pair of home games over the weekend, first defeating the Austin Bruins on Thursday night and following up with another win on Saturday versus the Coulee Region Chill. Combined with an Aberdeen loss on Saturday night, the wins put the Magicians into a tie for the 4th and final playoff spot in the Central Division with only 4-games to go. This weekend the Magicians will travel to North Dakota to face the Bismarck Bobcats in yet another important series. The Aberdeen Wings play the Brookings Blizzard in a home & home series on Friday and Saturday.
On Thursday night, the Magicians hosted the Austin Bruins for the final time this regular season. In the first period, the Magic got on the board quickly on a goal from John Peterson (Mason Palmer, Will Ulrich) just 5-minutes into the game. Austin was able to answer a short time later, but the Magicians struck back when Hugo Gallet scored a powerplay goal assisted by Tanner Tweten and Casey Jerry to give the home team a lead heading into the first intermission. In the second the Magicians struck on the powerplay once again, this time on a goal from Tanner Tweten assisted by Pierce Crawford and Mitch Slattery just over midway through the frame. The score would remain 3-1 in favor of the Magicians until Austin answered shortly into the final period to make it 3-2. The Magicians were able to hold on, however, and an empty net goal from Jack Christensen (Brady Heppner, Pierce Crawford) sealed the deal. Magicians goaltender Will Ulrich made 29 saves in the 4-2 victory on home ice.
On Saturday, the Coulee Region Chill came to town to face off at Richfield Ice Arena. Like they did on Thursday night, the Magicians were able to hit the board first with a goal from Pierce Crawford assisted by Matt Denman and Brady Heppner. Coulee Region was able to answer with a goal of their own and the first period ended with the score tied at 1-1. In the second period, the two teams once again traded goals. First, it was Magicians forward Tyler Bump scoring a highlight reel goal assisted by Matt Sherman. Later, Coulee Region answered to tie the game again heading into the third period. In the final 20-minutes of play, the Magicians took control of the game with 3 goals to bury the Chill. First, Braxton Collins found the back of the net after a great setup from Hugo Gallet. Next, it was John Peterson scoring a goal in his third straight game. Mitch Slattery and Derek Olmschenk earned assists on the goal, which was named the Top Play of the Week in the NAHL (Click to watch top plays). Just a minute later, Pierce Crawford scored his 2nd goal of the game (Brady Heppner, Matt Denman) to increase the Magicians lead to 5-2, a score that would be the final for the game. Goaltender Will Ulrich made 23 saves in the win for the Magicians.
The two wins were not the only highlights of the week for the Magicians. Forward Pierce Crawford was named Central Division Star of the Week after putting up 4-points (2 goals, 2 assists) over the 2 games, and John Peterson's goal off of an amazing feed from Mitch Slattery was selected as the top play of the week in the league.
Coming up this weekend is a crucial two game set in Bismarck, North Dakota against the division-leading Bobcats. The Magicians control their own fate in the playoff race, but need to keep winning in order to keep it that way. Two wins in Bismarck would put the Magicians in prime position to clinch a playoff spot at home on the final weekend of the regular season on April 8th and 9th.
Central Division Standings
Goals: Pierce Crawford (18)
Assists: Casey Jerry (28)
Points: Casey Jerry (42)
+/-: Mason Palmer (+7)
Wins: Will Ulrich (18)
SV%: Will Ulrich (.918)
GAA: Will Ulrich (2.88)