Jackson Reineke scored a goal at 8:53 of overtime to push the Anchorage Wolverines to a 2-1 victory over the St. Cloud Norsemen in the Robertson Cup semifinals Friday at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Minnesota.
The win gives the upstart Wolverines a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 series. The two teams play Game 2 on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ADT.
Anchorage’s Raythan Robbins sparkled in net for the first-year franchise. He made 48 saves and gave up only a first-period goal to earn the victory.
St. Cloud outshot Anchorage 49-21, with Norsemen goalie Tomas Bolo making 19 saves.
Despite being outshot more than 2-to-1, head coach Mike Aikens said the team earned a win and still has room for improvement.
“I think it’s good for our confidence that we can find a way to do it,” he said. “Our guys are smart enough to know we’re probably not going to get away with that again. We had a hard time getting the puck out of our end and that’s to St. Cloud’s credit. There’s a few things we can clean up. There are some pucks we threw away or we didn’t win battles we needed to.”
Hunter Schmitz and Collin Pederson assisted on the game-winner, which came on Anchorage’s second shot on goal of the OT period. Aikens said the goal was a result of a 2-on-1 break and a great shot from Reineke.
“It was Schmitz to Reineke, a one-timer across his body,” Aiken said. “He’s a righty and it came from left to right. He just got it and got it on net.”
Colton Friesen continued his deft scoring touch, putting the Wolverines up 1-0 at 10:17 of the first period with assists from Andy Ramsey and Cooper Morris.
The Norsemen knotted it up at 1-1 a minute later with a goal from Blake Perbix, who was assisted by Kade Peterson.
“I’m sure Ray would like that back,” Aikens said. “He was so good after that, just spectacular. He gave us a chance to win. We hung around and made a great play on a 2-on-1.”
Aikens expects a similar barrage on Saturday’s Game 2 by the Norsemen.
“It was wild,” Aikens said. “They’re good. They took it to us at times, as you would expect a No. 1 seed to.”
Aikens said the Wolverines will need another stellar performance from Robbins, who has turned heads this playoff season.
“Ray is very confident right now,” Aikens said. ”He thinks he can stop anything. What’s really kind of cool he’s opening the eyes of college scouts.”
Aikens said the defense also helped out Robbins, either stopping shots or giving him lanes to make saves.
“We got outshot badly, it wasn’t a ton of Grade A quality chances,” he said. “There were a few and he made some good saves. We blocked a lot of shots in front of him that didn’t get through. Guys were sacrificing their bodies.”