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Norsemen Tame the Ponies

by Matt MacInnis | May 24, 2017, 2:12 PM ET

The Vancouver Island Norsemen have advanced to the Continental Cup Finals for the first time with a 4-2 series win over the Calgary Mustangs.

The Commissioner’s Trophy winning Norsemen may have held home ice advantage going into the series, but it was the Mustangs who had dominated the regular season battle, winning four of the five match-ups between the team.

Unsurprisingly, it was a closely fought series, with the Norsemen ultimately coming out ahead with a 4-1 victory in the decisive sixth game in Calgary.  Once again, Joonas Korpisalo proved to be the most important player in the series, capturing three of the four victories the Norsemen needed, including a stellar 21-save performance in the final game.  Jonathan Quick did appear in two games, winning Game 3 and being pulled in Game 4 after surrendering three goals on just 16 shots.

Trade deadline acquisition Pavel Datsyuk also woke up during the series, scoring four goals and three assists to bolster his team-leading plus-10 rating through 17 games.

The Norsemen were also able to get healthy during the series.  Duncan Keith returned to action, although he continues to have no meaningful impact on the playoffs with just a single assist in 10 games played.

Similarly, Dalton Prout is now back to full health and available in case of emergency as an 8th defender. Prout appeared in 22 regular season games for the team and in one playoff game, during which he was injured.

Zbynek Michalek was injured in game 4 of the series and subsequently missed games 5 and 6, but is now healed and ready to go.

Most importantly, star left winger Adam Henrique is on the verge of returning to action. Henrique was hurt in game 1 of the series against Brandon and hasn’t played since.  Henrique had four goals in seven games before the injury, and had been one of the team’s leading scorers during the regular season.  Without him, Sidney Crosby has struggled, failing to register a single point in the last four games of the Mustangs series.

One interesting wrinkle to the series was the Norsemen’s decision to sign free agent Nick Spaling, a player the team had previously acquired at the deadline and then cut when he suffered a season-ending injury.  Spaling appeared in five games in the series, but did not register a point.

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