For the first time since 2018, the Willmar WarHawks have clinched a playoff spot. Willmar finished off a week of four consecutive games by defeating the NA3HL West Division leading North Iowa Bulls 7-5.
After two seasons of no playoff hockey, the WarHawks (17-16-0-0) secured their place on Sunday night with a thrilling victory over North Iowa (23-9-1-1) who earlier this week announced that the club would be leaving the NA3HL for the Tier II NAHL in the fall.
Jack Willis and Hunter Bjorge each scored twice with an assist in the home victory on Sunday. North Iowa had defeated Willmar 3-1 the previous night.
“Cooper Olson played great in relief,” commented coach Kirk Olimb after the win. “Huge night for Willis. Bjorge as well with his first two WarHawks goals to secure the win.”
While the Bulls won the season series 7-3, Willmar has won three of the last four head-to-head matchups. Of those three wins, two came in Mason City, where they could meet again in the divisional playoffs.
Willmar began their four-day marathon Thursday in Mason City earning a 4-2 victory. Dylan Gajewski scored a natural hat trick while Lukas Haugen made 36 saves.
On Friday the WarHawks returned to home ice and put in a dominating performance defeating New Ulm Steel 6-1. A pair of goals by Brady O’Brien led Willmar who outshot the visitors 58-17.