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Axemen Finish Regular Season As Second Seed

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With their North Central Hockey League (NCHL) second seed finish already determined, the Swan Valley Axemen still had a game to play this past weekend. A Saturday night date in Moosomin against the seventh place Rangers was on tap and the Axemen had plans to end the regular season with a victory.
Much to their delight, the Axemen came out on the right end of an 8-6 score to finish the regular season with a 12-3-1 record.
The Axemen used a five goal first period to power their way to the road victory. Adding one more in the second and a pair of goals in the third period helped hold off the home town Rangers.
Brock Jersak with a pair, Jory Mullin, Jeff Riddell and Dan Gattinger all scored in the opening period. That put the Axemen out front by a 5-1 score heading into the first intermission. Braedan Boschman would be the only Ranger player to beat Axemen netminder Deven Dubyk in the opening 20 minutes.
The Rangers would cut the lead to three after two periods of play by outscoring the visitors 2-1 in the middle frame. Brayden Nabholz and Jackson Wallis would sandwich goals around Jory Mullin’s second of the game to leave the Axemen holding onto a 6-3 lead after two periods of play.
The home team would again outscore the Axemen by a goal in the third and final period, this time by a 3-2 margin. Nabholz would score his second of the game while Boschman would add his second and third goals of the contest for the Rangers. The final goal though was rather irrelevant as it came with only six seconds remaining in the contest.
For the visitors, Brock Jersak and Jory Mullin would each score their third goals of the game.
Despite giving up six goals, Dubyk was often sensational in the Axemen net, stopping 55 of 61 shots directed his way. At the other end of the ice, the Axemen fired 37 shots on Rangers netminder Travis Baily.
The Axemen were handed four of the seven minor penalties dished out on the night.
The Rangers scored once on their four power play opportunities while the Axemen were blanked on their three man advantages.
Playoffs
The Axemen will now face the seventh seeded Moosomin Rangers in their first round, best-of-five series.
Game one will go this Saturday (Feb. 17) at 3 p.m. in Minitonas. The two teams will play game two in Moosomin the following day.
Game three will go Saturday (Feb. 24) at 7:30 p.m., also in Minitonas.
If necessary, game four will be played in Moosomin on Feb. 25 and game five would be played on Feb. 26 at 8:30 p.m. in Minitonas.
Axemen Extras
Jory Mullin was named the NCHL’s Most Valuable Player over the weekend... Various members of the Axemen were recognized by league officials with All-Star status. Forward Jeff Riddell and netminder Deven Dubyk were both named first team all-stars while defenceman Dallas Anderson and forward Jory Mullin were announced as second team all-stars. Brock Jersak was announced as a third team all-star as well. How Mullin was named league MVP but only a second team all-star is a mystery to many... Mullin finished the season leading not only the Axemen in points, but the entire NCHL, with 47 in just 15 games played. Jeff Riddell finished second in team, fifth in league, scoring with 35 in 15 games played. Brock Jersak finished third in team and tenth in league scoring with 30 points in 16 games played. Ryan Braun (93 PIM’s) and Will Woodson (57 PIM’s) were one-two in Axemen penalty minutes. That also pitted them in second and seventh spot respectfully in the entire NCHL.

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Brian Gilroy
REPORTER
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