USPHL Playoffs are underway this week around the country. Two of the hottest teams are meeting in the Midwest-West first round as the four-seed Minnesota Blue Ox host Rum River Mallards in a best-of three series. After Friday night the home team has their back against the wall as the Mallards held on to win Game 1 in Coon Rapids 3-2.
Rum River Mallards 3
Minnesota Blue Ox 2
Mallards lead best-of three series 1-0. #USPHLplayoffs pic.twitter.com/LJyBbRdBne
— Rum River Mallards (@RRMallards) February 29, 2020
The visitors got off to a good start with Derek Becklin scoring shorthanded to open playoff scoring. Blue Ox would tie it 1-1 late in the first.
For the next 38 minutes goaltender Armand Charland would keep the Blue Ox off the scoreboard despite facing a barrage of shots. Charland got the start after teammate Jason Cooke got the call earlier in the day to the Tier II Janesville Jets. Cooke dressed as backup in the Jets 6-0 win over the Springfield Jr. Blues.
Advancement Alert! Congrats to goaltender Jason Cooke on his call-up to the Janesville Jets! @JanesvilleJets1 @USPHL @NAHLHockey pic.twitter.com/R72sXTjye7
— Rum River Mallards (@RRMallards) February 28, 2020
CJ Hoyt scored early into the second and repeated the feat early in the third to give Rum River a 3-1 advantage. Shots continued to rain down on Charland who made 51 saves.
With under two minutes to go the Blue Ox pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker. It paid off with a goal to get within one, but the Mallards would hold on to win.
First year coach Triston Jensen was ecstatic with his team play saying, “Armand played absolutely out of his mind tonight. I can’t put into words some of the saves he made.”
Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday 7:00 PM at the Coon Rapids Ice Center.
“As for the team, that’s a gritty playoff win on the back of great goaltending,” said Jensen. “Still more business to be done tomorrow.”
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