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Maulers eliminate Spartans in WSHL playoffs

Missoula’s Misha Akatnov scored with 6½ minutes to play and the Maulers held off the Southern Oregon Spartans from there to clinch the Western States Hockey League second-round playoff series on Saturday.

Andrew Carriere scored 42 seconds into the match to give Southern Oregon some hope after Friday’s loss in the best-of-three series, and the Spartans led 3-2 after one period on goals by Anton Bokull and David Widnig.

Paiute Morrison and Charlie Wood tacked on goals in the second period for the Spartans, but the Maulers countered with three goals of their own, including one by Matt Eng with 51.3 seconds remaining to force a 5-all tie.

Neither team could find the net in the final period until Akatnov’s effort for Missoula.

Southern Oregon goalkeeper Austin Toussaint stopped 38 shots while Missoula goalie Noah Parker had 20 saves.

The Spartans went 33-19 in the regular season to finish third in the Northwest Division.