Blizzard head to the finalsAlexandria took the Central Division's opening round series from the Express in four games
Home ice seems to hold a little extra magic for the Blizzard.
After splitting its first two road games at Owatonna by one goal each, Alexandria returned to the friendly confines of the Runestone Community Center to take the opening series in the Central Division playoffs with a weekend sweep by scores of 6-2 and 5-2, knocking off the Express 3-1 in the best-of-five series.
In both of their final two games, the Blizzard broke things open with a three-goal period in each game.
The weekend victories advanced the Blizzard to the Central Division finals against Bismarck and Alexandria will need all the magic it can get as the team has just one win against the Bobcats this season in 13 outings, that one coming at home.
Bismarck finished the regular season as the Central Division champions, having a 39-11 record, with Owatonna second at 32-22 and Alexandria third at 30-22. The Bobcats swept their division series opener over Albert Lea.
But the regular season is history, and the Blizzard are playing like champions, riding the exceptional play of their goaltender Robert Tadazak, who made 45 stops in the final two games over the weekend.
Alex Altenbernd was a powerhouse on offense as he notched three goals on Friday, then added another Saturday, while complementing that score with a pair of assists.
Brett Wall had two goals Friday night and Simon Cederborg-Nilsson had three assists Friday, then added a goal and four assists Saturday.
Alexandria closed out the first round of the Central Division playoffs by outscoring Owatonna 11-4 over the weekend
Twelve different players scored goals for the Blizzard in the four-game series and 10 different players had assists
The Blizzard outshot the Express 79-49 in the final two games of the series
In all, Alexandria threw 146 shots at Owatonna goalie Matt Hemingway in the series
Alexandria outscored Owatonna 20-13 in the four games
Steve Zierke also scored a goal and added an assist Friday, then rounded out his game with two goals and an assist Saturday.
Alexandria opens on the road next weekend at Bismarck, then will come back home on Friday, April 23. If necessary, game four will be played on Saturday, April 24, in Alexandria and game five would be Sunday, April 25, in Bismarck.
OWATONNA 0 1 1 2
ALEXANDRIA 1 3 1 6
ALEX – Alex Altenbernd (Brett Wall, Steve Zierke) 7:34.
ALEX – Brett Wall (Kyle Clay, Nardo Natgzaam) 0:37, ALEX – Brett Wall (Billy Miller, Michael Benedict) 5:02, OWA – Brian McGinty (Jake Suter) 5:47, ALEX – Alex Altenbernd, power play (Michael Pieper, Simon Cederborg-Nilsson) 11:53.
ALEX – Alex Altenbernd, power play (Steve Zierke, Simon Cederborg-Nilsson) 2:25, ALEX – Steve Zierke (Simon Cederborg-Nilsson, Chris Franks) 8:55, OWA – Jacob Sloat (Cory Thorson, Nick Widing) 18:51.
SHOTS ON GOALS – Owatonna 6-10-7-23; Alexandria 13-20-11-44.
GOALIE SAVES – Matt Hemingway (L), Owatonna, 35; Robert Tadazak (W), Alexandria, 21.
PENALTIES – Owatonna 12 minutes on 6 infractions, Alexandria 14 minutes on 7 infractions.
1ST STAR – Alex Altenbernd. 2ND STAR – Robert Tadazak. 3RD STAR – Brett Wall.
OWATONNA 1 1 0 2
ALEXANDRIA 1 1 3 5
ALEX – Steve Zierke (Simon Cederborg-Nilsson) 6:18, OWA – Dan Cecka (Zach Vierling) 7:27.
ALEX – Simon Cederborg-Nilsson, power play (unassisted) 7:39, OWA – Zach Vierling (Jake Youso, Dylan Porter) 15:08.
ALEX – Alex Altenbernd, power play (Mike Krieg, Steve Zierke) 15:51, ALEX – Steve Zierke (Simon Cederborg-Nilsson, Alex Altenbernd) 15:51, ALEX – Nick Nagel (Simon Cederborg-Nilsson, Alex Altenbernd) 18:41.
SHOTS ON GOAL – Owatonna 9-11-6-26; Alexandria 10-16-9-35.
GOALIE SAVES – Matt Hemingway (L), Owatonna, 30; Robert Tadazak (W), Alexandria) 24.
PENALTIES – Owatonna 8 minutes on 4 infractions, Alexandria 10 minutes on 5 infractions.
1ST STAR – Steve Zierke. 2ND STAR – Simon Cederborg-Nilsson. 3RD STAR – Alex Altenbernd.