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This past weekend featured two intense and dramatic games between the Milwaukee Power and the St. Louis Jr. Blues. Coming into the weekend there was one point separating the two teams in the Central Division standings and at the end of the weekend there was still only one point separating them.
The Friday night contest was a low scoring affair as the 1st period came and went without either side being able to crack open the scoring. The 2nd period was a different case as the Blues scored just 22-seconds into the period to take the lead.
Five-minutes into the 3rd period the Power's Maris Graudins broke into the Blues end stoping at the top of the right circle with a spin-o-rama putting a shot on net that was deflected in by a Blues stick.
"You can call it lucky but you never know how the puck will bounce if you get it to the net from a tough spot and we got the better end of the bounce on that play," said Head Coach Fred Berry.
Now with the game tied it was really a battle of the goaltenders to not give up the go-ahead-goal. That goal was scored by Graudins after Chuck Bay kicked the puck off the boards to be slowed by Ethan Dabbs and picked up by Graudins to score five-hole point blank. For the 2nd time in his NA3 career Graudins had a two goal game.
Aaron Dickstein would be the goaltender to come out on top as he stopped 22 of 23 shots that night.
"That's the kind of game you live for as a competitor where both sides are giving their best and you have to be on your game to have the chance to win. That was by far the best hockey game we've been in this season," said Assistant Coach Austin Keiser.
Three Stars & Hard Hat
Third Star: #21 Chuck Bay with 2 assists
Second Star: #30 Aaron Dickstein with 22 saves
First Star: #18 Maris Graudins with 2 goals
JS Quality Construction Hard Hat Player: #4 Alexander Kelsall
The Saturday night game was a much different contest as goals were coming left and right in a back and forth battle. The Blues would strike first in the 1st period before Jake Berry would put it back to even with a power-play-goal just over a minute later. St. Louis would add another in the final three-minutes of the 1st to retake the lead.
The Blues would add another to start off the 2nd period to put their lead to two before a brilliant tic-tac-toe power-play-goal by Chuck Bay that would be featured as the leagues top play of the week. Milwaukee would get another power-play-goal this time from Maris Graudins on a tip from a Jake Berry pass from the point. This tied the game with less then 20-seconds to go in the 2nd.
The Blues would strike first in the 3rd on the power-play to take the lead. The Power would tie the game on a great breakaway-goal by former Jr. Blue Ethan Dabbs after he was sprung by a Jake Berry pass. Dabbs would also get the go ahead goal with just over three-minutes to go but it wasn't enough as St. Louis would tie the game with less then a minute to go on the power-play. They would then take the lead with 20-seconds to go.
"That was a tough loss to take but I think it showed how good of a team we are in order to go back and forth with one of the best offensive teams in the league. We just have to make sure we finish strong next time," said Assistant Coach Austin Keiser.
The Power and Blues will face off four more times this season in the tight race for the Central Division. Milwaukee travels to Evansville, Indiana to take on the Jr. Thunderbolts in a three game series this weekend.
Weekend AwardsMaris Graudins was named the Central Divisions Star of the Week with his 3-goals and 1-assist over the weekend. Click HereAlexander Kelsall picks up the JS Quality Construction Hard Hat Player of the Weekend.
Aaron Dickstein got called up to practice with the NAHL Austin Bruins this week but is still looking for a game call-up which would be the first in the Power's history.
Chuck Bay's power-play-goal got the top spot in the NA3's Top Plays of the Week.
The Power have traded the rights to John Serafin to Mid-Cities Stars receiving an 8th round draft choice in return.
In Other News
It was not only a big weekend for the Power but also for one of their volunteers. Ethan Cepuran, 18, has been helping during Power home games as a cameraman, goal judge, and penalty box attendant over the past two months all while training at the Pettit National Ice Center. This past weekend the Fall World Cup Qualifier event was held there to select the US Long Track Fall World Cup Team. Cepuran had made the past three Junior World Teams and is in his last year of Junior eligibility. He would earn one of two spots in the Mass Start event along with former World Champion Joey Mantia and would also earn the only spot in the 5000-meters by finishing as the top American and the 2nd fastest time of the day.
"I knew there was a chance that it could happen but when it comes down to it you have to skate the best race you can and hope that it was faster than everyone else's and there were a lot of good skaters here this weekend that could've gotten either the Mass Start or the 5k spot," said Cepuran.
Congratulations to you Ethan from the Power and best of luck this season!