After each team picked up home wins by scores of 3-2, the New Ulm Steel got the better of the Alexandria Blizzard in game three at the Runestone Community Center, taking the game 5-0 to advance to the West Division championship series against Granite City.
The Blizzard came out flying and outplayed New Ulm for most of the first two periods.
“We felt pretty good. We were buzzing, creating a lot of scoring chances,” Alexandria captain Jack Cernohous. “I don’t even know how he (New Ulm goalie Nathan Siclovan) made some of those saves to be honest. I guess the pucks just weren’t bouncing our way tonight.”
The game was scoreless until the last minute of the second period when Alex Egle put the Steel on the board with a power play goal, which was all Siclovan needed.
“It does kind of kill you,” said Cernohous of the first goal. “Especially with under a minute left in the period, it just kills your momentum. We tried to bounce back, I guess it just didn’t quite happen tonight. Once they got one, they just kept coming. It is what it is.”
The Steel piled it on throughout the third period with goals from Vincent Billing, Jared Erickson, Alex Nagel and Sam Wenner.
Siclovan had 46 saves in the shutout.
“Their goalie has been playing pretty hot lately, and he really showed pretty well throughout these playoff games,” Cernohous said. “So we knew that was an issue, and we had to worry about our D-zone just to try not to allow any goals because it’s so hard for us to score.”
For the Blizzard, Brey Effertz allowed five goals on 32 Steel shots.
Alexandria finished the regular season 32-12-3 and went 1-2 in the playoffs.
“The regular season went well,” Cernohous said. “We had a franchise record 32 wins which was nice. And I thought in playoffs we had a good work ethic and a lot of heart out there. It just comes back to their their goaltender. He really kept their whole team in it.”
STEEL 0 1 4 - 5
BLIZZARD 0 0 0 - 0
FIRST PERIOD - No Scoring
SECOND PERIOD - 1, NUS, Egle (Erickson, Witta), 19:10
THIRD PERIOD - 2, NUS, Billing (Mickelson), 3:16, 3, NUS, Erickson (Woytcke, Campbell), 10:46; 4, NUS, Nagel (Belisle, Storlie), 12:47; 5, NUS, Wenner (Padley), 18:46
GOALTENDING - NUS, Siclovan (W) - 46 saves, 0 goals allowed; ALX, Effertz (L) - 27 saves, 5 goals allowed