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Blizzard hockey: Alexandria gives fans first glimpse at RCC

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The Alexandria Blizzard isn't quite in midseason form, but the team gave its fans a taste of what it wants to be this season in a 4-3 overtime win in the home opener this past Saturday.

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The win at the Runestone Community Center was Alexandria's third straight after winning 3-2 the night before in Aberdeen. Both games played out in similar fashion as the Blizzard jumped out to 3-0 leads before holding off the Wings down the stretch. That moved the team past the .500 mark as Alexandria sat at 4-3-1 on the early season.

"We're still kind of finding our identity," head coach Doc DelCastillo said, "but I think the fans kind of got a glimpse of what we're about. At times during the game, like in the second period, we spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. That's what we want. We're a group of hard-working guys. It's an easy team to identify with cause they're good guys and they play a real hard style of hockey."

Alexandria capitalized on its opportunities in the second period on Saturday after sending 16 shots at the net. Grant Eichstadt, Seth Ronsberg and Nick D'Avolio all connected as the Blizzard took what seemed like a commanding lead.

The Wings answered with a flurry of their own the rest of the way. Aberdeen added one before the end of the second and another on a power play a little more than seven minutes into the third. Mack Ohnsted then got the equalizer with 1:03 left in the game to send things into overtime.

Charlie Aus made sure the disappointment of losing a big lead didn't carry over into the extra session. The forward who was acquired from Bismarck earlier this season made his first goal in a Blizzard uniform count when he put in the game winner 1:54 into overtime.

GAME STATISTICS

ABERDEEN 0 1 2 0 - 3

ALEXANDRIA 0 3 0 1 - 4

POWER PLAYS - Aberdeen - 1-3; Alexandria - 1-4; SHOTS - Aberdeen - 5, 13, 10, 0 - 28; Alexandria - 14, 16, 11, 2 - 43

SCORING - FIRST PERIOD - No scoring

SECOND PERIOD - Alexandria - Grant Eichstadt (Gage Torrel, Nick D'Avolio), 6:44; Alexandria - Seth Ronsberg (Rodney Lalonde, Michael Mooney), 7:47; Alexandria - Nick D'Avolio (PPG) (Charlie Aus, Hayden Trupp), 10:51; Aberdeen - Bryce Hutton (Alex Brooks, Bob Bruski), 16:34

THIRD PERIOD - Aberdeen - Paul Prescott (PPG) (Lane Mahoney, Ryan Doner), 7:22; Aberdeen - Mack Ohnsted (Lane Mahoney, Cullen Hurley), 18:57

OVERTIME - Alexandria - Charlie Aus (Nick DeCenzo, Hayden Trupp), 1:54

GOALTENDING - Alexandria - Jacob Meyers - W, 25 saves, 28 shots; Aberdeen - Frederick Leisner - L, 39 saves, 43 shots

ALEXANDRIA 2 1 0 - 3

ABERDEEN 0 0 2 - 2

POWER PLAYS - Alexandria - 0-3; Aberdeen - 0-5; Shots - Alexandria - 13, 7, 4 - 24; Aberdeen - 11, 8, 15 - 34

SCORING - FIRST PERIOD - Alexandria - Hayden Trupp (Seth Ronsberg, Rodney Lalonde), 17:30; Alexandria - Nick DAvolio (unassisted), 19:18

SECOND PERIOD - Alexandria - Casey Purpur (shorthanded) (Justin Moody, Vadim Gyesbreghs), 12:15

THIRD PERIOD - Aberdeen - Bob Bruski (Tyler Dunagan, Ryan Doner), 17:42; Aberdeen - Paul Prescott (extra attacker) (Loren French, Alex Brooks), 18:45

GOALTENDING - Alexandria - Jameson Shortreed - W, 32 saves, 34 shots; Aberdeen - Leisner - L, 21 saves, 24 shots

The two wins is what mattered most to DelCastillo after the weekend. Watching things get interesting in the third period after taking early 3-0 leads is just something this team might have to deal with as players get accustomed to the junior hockey level.

"No, I'm not concerned about it," DelCastillo said. "One, we have a young team and that first night you got to know when you give up one on the road, sometimes that one turns into two pretty quick. That's a learning process. Secondly, I still don't see our conditioning being where I want it to be, but that's a process. We're working awfully hard during the week."

DelCastillo has always been adamant about building teams to last. He works his players hard throughout the week to build up endurance. The work they put in on conditioning has proven effective the last couple seasons as Alexandria has played its best hockey during the last two months.

"I will not sacrifice things for short term success right now," DelCastillo said. "What I mean by that is if we're skating on Monday and Tuesday, and every day we skate quite a bit, but we're not going to look at Friday and say, 'it's a big game in October, let's not skate this week.' It will pay off in the end, but it's a process."

In the meantime, the Blizzard has been able to pick up some early-season wins. Since the resounding loss in Bismarck, Alexandria has won three straight games decided by one goal.

"There's a couple things, probably the first is we haven't played Bismarck since then," DelCastillo said. "Bismarck's a very good team. I think they'll set the barometer as far as where everyone else has to be in our division. Secondly, I think we're getting better. These guys are buying into the way we need to play to be successful. Thirdly, we've made some changes that have helped our team. Within the last, probably three weeks, we've brought in a handful of guys that are good hockey players."

With more time to gel, that group of players hopes to only improve as the season goes on.

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Eric Morken
Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
(320) 763-1229
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