The “visiting” New Mexico Ice Wolves road a 36 save performance by goaltender Beni Halasz to defeat the Titans in game one of this best-of-three Robertson Cup semi-finals 3 – 1.
It was only the second meeting in the history between the two teams. They first met during the Ice Wolves inaugural season back in 2019-20.
The number three seed and South Division champions opened the scoring at 9:19 into the first period. After Takacs made a blocker save, the puck went to the near side half wall where it was picked up by New Mexico’s William Howard who wrapped a pass around the end boards to JD Metz behind the Titans net. Metz passed it out to Gustav Blom at the far side faceoff dot, and Bloom took a shot that was redirected out in front by Blayde Pogreba and past Tackas for Pogreba’s first goal of the playoffs.
It was a nervous first period for the Red Buckets having been outshot 13 – 9 but Takacs had to make a couple of Grade A saves to keep the East Division champions in the game.
Despite trailing 1 – 0 entering the middle stanza, the Titans regained their form and started to buzz around the Ice Wolves net only to be stopped by Halasz.
The Ice Wolves doubled their lead with 5:30 remaining in the second period. After Takacs made a sharp angle shot save on New Mexico’s Grant Ellings, the puck went to the far side half wall and picked up by the Ice Wolves’ Aidan Emerson who took a shot that was save by Takacs and the rebound came out to Ellings. Takacs made a successive save on Ellings but the rebound came right out to Jake Keller on the door step and Keller beat Takacs high glove side for Keller’s fourth goal of the playoffs.
New Mexico’s Alex Gomez scored an empty net goal with forty-seven seconds remaining in the game to put the contest out of reach.
Ryan Coughlin did break Halasz’s shutout bid with thirty seconds left in the game to make it 3 – 1 to close out the scoring. It was fifth goal of the playoffs.
Takacs, who kept the Titans in the game, turned aside 30 of 32 shots. Click here for the box score.
Game two of this best-of-three Robertson Cup semi-final series will be tonight at 8:30PM ET.