Micky Turner broke in and went top shelf for the game-winning goal 11:47 into sudden-death overtime Sunday night to give the Bellingham Blazers a 6-5 victory in the deciding fifth game of the Cascade Cup Finals. The win gave Bellingham a second consecutive Northern Pacific Hockey League title.
West Sound had rallied from two goals down in the third period when Jimmy Morgan scored a short-handed goal and Andy Williams added his second goal of the game.
Bellingham’s Boris Knyazev had two goals and two assists, including one on the game-winning goal.
By winning the best-of-five series 3-2, the Blazers earned a spot at the USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Tournament in Simsbury, Conn. April 3-7.
After West Sound won the tournament opener, Bellingham won two straight. West Sound then avoided elimination with a 4-1 home-ice victory Saturday, sending the series back to Bellingham for Game 5.
Bellingham’s Cody Rich scored goals in all five games of the series and finished as the Northern Pacific’s leading playoff scorer with six goals and seven assists.
PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: The Philadelphia Little Flyers landed the final Eastern Hockey League semifinal spot Sunday when Hector Majul had two goals and an assist while Alec Derks made 30 saves in a 5-0 win over the Hartford Junior Wolfpack in the deciding game of a best-of-three series.
In another quarterfinal, the Northern Cyclones used back-to-back overtime victories to sweep the defending champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. Bryan Dallaire assisted on two goals in the first 7:35 and then scored the game-winner 4:05 into overtime in the 5-4 victory that allowed Northern to advance. The top-seeded New Hampshire Junior Monarchs and Boston Bandits also swept quarterfinal series.
The Jersey Hitmen opened the best-of-three United States Premier Hockey League Premier Division Championship Series with a 4-3 win over the Boston Junior Bruins on Wednesday night. Tim Doherty scored twice and Sean Lawrence made 33 saves. The series continues in Marlborough, Mass. on Thursday and, if necessary, Friday.
The USPHL on Wednesday started its Elite Championship Series, a round-robin, with the Springfield Pics shutting out the Hampton Roads Whalers 5-0 and the Jersey Hitmen and Florida Eels playing to a 1-1 tie. Stephen Gaul scored the first two goals and Michael Dion made 30 saves for Springfield. Max Kirkwood had 49 saves for Florida.
Seven of eight first-round Minnesota Junior Hockey League first-round series were decided in two games. The third-seeded Hudson Crusaders outlasted the sixth-seeded Steele County Blades in the Minnesota Division in the series that featured three one-goal games. The fifth-seeded Rochester Ice Hawks were the only divisional team to beat a higher-seeded opponent, knocking out the fourth-seeded Twin Cities Northern Lights with an 8-0 blowout in Game 2. The Dells Ducks and Maple Grove Energy, the top two seeds, also advanced.
Daniel Kemter made 78 saves when the sixth-seeded Wooster Oilers defeated the third-seeded Central Wisconsin Saints 4-3 and 3-1 in the Great Lakes Division. The Illiana Blackbirds and Fort Wayne Federals also won in two games while the top-seeded Marquette Royales received a bye.
The Great Falls Americans and Helena Bighorns relied on defense to post road wins Tuesday and Wednesday when the American West Hockey League playoffs got underway. Each team took a 2-0 lead in best-of-five series in which they will be home the rest of the way.
Great Falls topped the Gillette Wild, 5-1 and 3-2. Lucas Lomax had a goal and two assists and the penalty-kill unit stopped all six Gillette chances in the opener. Donovan Mattfeldt scored two goals and Erik Powell made 35 saves in the second game.
Austin Brihn stopped 50 of 51 shots as Helena defeated the Billings Bulls, 4-0 and 4-1.
SEASON WRAPUP: All three teams from the North American 3 Hockey League South Division and the top four teams from each of the other divisions will open Silver Cup playoff action beginning Thursday.
The Peoria Mustangs won the Central Division, the Flint Junior Generals won the East, the Topeka Capitals won the South, and the North Iowa Bulls won the West.
The four divisional playoff survivors will take part in the NA3HL Championship, a round-robin event March 27-30 in Geneva, Ill. where the top two teams will advance to nationals.
PLAYOFF RACES: The Indiana Ice became the first team to clinch a playoff spot in the United States Hockey League Eastern Conference. The Waterloo Black Hawks, Sioux City Musketeers and Sioux Falls Stampede joined the Omaha Lancers in securing the playoff spots from the Western Conference.
Fairbanks clinched the North American Hockey League Midwest Division title. The Ice Dogs have the home ice for the first two rounds of the NAHL’s Robertson Cup playoffs and can lock up home ice throughout the playoffs if they can maintain the league’s best record. Fairbanks is currently 42-13-1.
The Port Huron Fighting Falcons, the NAHL North Division leader, clinched a playoff berth while the Wichita Falls Wildcats landed the last available spot in the South.
In addition to Fairbanks, Port Huron and Wichita Falls, NAHL playoff spots have been clinched by: the Minnesota Wilderness in the Midwest; the Austin Bruins, Aberdeen Wings and Bismarck Bobcats in the Central Division; and the Amarillo Bulls, Topeka RoadRunners, and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in the South Division.
ONE-TIMERS: Logan Halladay, a 17-year-old goaltender from Cary, N.C. who has a .931 save percentage with the NAHL’s Janesville Jets, has committed to play at the University of Minnesota. ... Jared Thomas scored all four goals for Sioux City Thursday in a 4-1 USHL victory over the Des Moines Buccaneers. … The Green Bay Gamblers matched a USHL modern record with three short-handed goals — by Ryan Lough, Evan Tironese and Matt Weis — in a 4-1 win Friday over the Fargo Force. … The NA3HL approved the sale and relocation of the Michigan Mountain Cats to Jamestown, N.Y. for the 2014-15 season.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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