In what may have been one of the most electrifying weekends in the history of Wilson Ice Arena, the Milwaukee Power began to build their history in the NA3HL last Friday night.
The Power opened the 2018-19 season against the Peoria Mustangs, a perennial playoff team in the NA3HL and that had 13 players returning from last season. Meanwhile the Power, formerly the Point Mallard Ducks of Decatur, Alabama, only returned one player from last season's roster in forward Mason Evans.
"Our guys had a tough task put in front of them this weekend having only been practicing together for the past week and not having a full 20-man lineup like Peoria," said Chase Ernst, Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Power.
Ben Beversdorf had given the Power their first NA3HL goal in the team's history in the 2nd period on a pass from the Captain Jake Berry.
The Mustangs scored just a minute and 22 seconds later to retake the lead and added another before the period was over.
"It's a long journey up the mountain and we had to scale a cliff being down by two goals at the start of the 3rd period," said Ernst. The Power needed a jump start and it came early in the period as Maris Graudins, a rookie free agent, was able to bury one on the power play just shy of two minutes into the 3rd. Just 10 seconds later the Power tied the game on another goal by Ben Beversdorf that was assisted by his twin brother Caleb and Logan Geisness, all three of them had been traded for to come to Milwaukee just one week before.
With the game tied the crowd of 635 came alive with cheers and chants that the old barn hadn't seen in a long time. The Power had grabbed the momentum, but the score was only tied and there were almost 18 minutes left on the clock.
The team went to work and eight minutes later Mason Evans, the first player to sign a Power Player Contract, threw a shot on net from an impossible angle with the bounce of a lifetime that went in. The building rang louder and louder as the Power took the lead with 9:46 to go.
It was almost the perfect period but Jake Berry, the Power's top defenseman, was given a two-minute minor penalty for interference with 3:14 left in the game. What happened next was a textbook display of penalty killing as the Power only allowed one shot on net during the penalty.
In the final minute the Power kept the pressure on not allowing Peoria to bring on the extra attacker and finally the clock struck 00:00 as the Power held on to the one goal lead to complete the comeback win.
Aaron Dickstein became the first goalie to win a NA3HL game for the Power as he stopped 25 out 28 shots on goal.
The Three Stars of the game that night were:
-3rd Star: #18 Maris Graudins with one goal.
-2nd Star: #8 Mason Evans with the game winning goal.
-1st Star: #3 Ben Beversdorf with two goals.
JS Quality Construction Hard Hat Player of the Game: #13 John Kosa
Congratulations were given all around as just four months prior the Power had begun hiring the business and coaching staff to build the organization from the ground up. The celebrations continued in the lobby of Wilson Ice Arena as players mingled with the fans and signed autographs.
The job wasn't done yet though as the Power had to face Peoria again on Saturday night. Assistant Coach, Austin Keiser, broke down film with the team on Saturday morning to get them ready for the second game and it paid off in a big way as the Power's offense exploded and never trailed going on to win by a final score of 6-3.
3 Stars of the Game:
Third Star: #14 Jake Berry
Second Star: #3 Ben Beversdorf
First Star: #18 Maris Graudins
JS Quality Construction Hard Hat Player of the Game: #6 Ryan Payne
The victory completed the sweep of the weekend with over one-thousand spectators in total attendance.
"It was a great weekend for our guys and we did a lot of the little things right especially in the second game like staying out of the box and getting a lot of shots on net," said Austin Keiser.
"The guys can enjoy this one for a little bit but we need to get back to work this week for next weekend cause last weekend was last weekend and we have 45 more games to go," said Fred Berry, GM/Head Coach.
AwardsBen Beversdorf was named the Central Division Star of the Week.
Ryan Payne was named the JS Quality Construction Player of the Weekend.
Up next the Power take on the Coulee Region Chill on Friday night and the Wisconsin Whalers on Saturday night, both games starting at 7:45PM.
The ticket line opens at 6:30PM and tickets are:
-Adults - $6
-Youth 14 and under - $4
-Senior 65+ - $4
-Military - Free with ID
Come out to watch and cheer the Power on as they look to stay on top of the Central Division.
Written by Gordon Cepuran
Pictures by Nathan Miller