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HOCKEY

Anchorage Wolverines fall 4-1 in Minnesota in NAHL playoff series where sublime goaltending is flexing

by | Apr 26, 2024 | Cover Story, Hockey

Anchorage’s Bryce Monrean follows the puck. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

The first-round, best-of-5 North American Hockey League playoff series between the Anchorage Wolverines and Minnesota Wilderness is following a familiar postseason narrative: Goals are hard to come by.

The Wilderness avoided elimination Friday night, courtesy of goaltender Adam Prokop, who stopped 32 shots to steer them to a 4-1 victory over the Wolverines and force another elimination game Saturday night in Cloquet. Anchorage leads the series, 2-1.

Anchorage’s first loss of the Robertson Cup playoffs came despite another strong performance from masked man Liam Beerman, who snuffed 35 of 38 Minnesota shots.

Stingy goaltending has been the dominant theme in the series.

Beerman stopped 33 shots in the series opener to lift the Wolverines to a 4-0 win. He made 36 saves in Anchorage’s 2-1 overtime win in Game 2.

Through three games, Beerman owns a 1.32 goals-against average and .963 save percentage. Prokop checks in at 1.98 and .941.

Anchorage didn’t get its lone goal Friday – Kade Shea struck off assists from Camden Shasby and Brock Devlin – until just 2 minutes, 4 seconds remained in the game. But that only cut the Wolverines’ deficit to 4-1.

The Wolverines have proved disciplined and determined in the series. They have permitted Minnesota just seven power plays and killed them all. Anchorage is 2 for 14 with the man advantage in the series.

If necessary, Game 5 would be played Sunday in Cloquet.

The Wolverines won the Midwest Division with a remarkable run in the final third of the regular season. They went 17-1-3 in their last 21 games, a stretch in which the third-season franchise reeled off a club-record, 12-game winning streak and club-record, 19-game point streak (17-0-2).

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