Blizzard split weekend games
The Alexandria Blizzard had another up and down weekend after losing a home game to Twin City last Friday and beating Breezy Point on the road Saturday.
The Blizzard’s 4-2 home loss Friday night helped Twin City cut Alexandria’s lead for third place in the standings to only six points.
Ian Ecklund and Tom Schmidt both scored goals for Alexandria, but Twin City goaltender Jackson Germaine kept the rest of the Blizzard’s 33 shots out of the net to pick up the win.
Head coach Jeff Crouse had hoped that the team would play a little better in a home game that is important for the season standings.
“I wasn’t too happy with the way we played at home with Twin City coming in and taking a win from us in a pretty big game,” he said. “They are right behind us in the standings and I thought our effort and intensity weren’t quite there.”
The Blizzard had a quick turnaround the next day and picked up a 4-2 win over Breezy Point on Saturday afternoon. Bo Gronseth led Alexandria with two goals, and Mick Dhein and Aaron Ryback also netted one each.
Evan Bisek picked up the win in goal by stopping 19 of Breezy Point’s 21 shots. A game at North Iowa that was scheduled for Sunday had to be postponed because of the weather.
The weekend games pushed Alexandria to 23-14-0 overall with a six point cushion for third place in the NA3HL’s West Division. Crouse said it is important for the Blizzard not to overlook fourth place Twin City. Alexandria does have five more wins than Twin City, but they still figure to be a force with 11 games left in the regular season schedule.
“They are going to be a threat,” Crouse said. “They are playing good hockey right now and they probably want to get to that three seed and avoid North Iowa.”
The Blizzard players have not been strangers to the penalty box this season.
They lead the league with 1,137 total penalty minutes, which is 197 more than the second-highest team in the league, Flint.
Many of those penalties have come from 10-minute and five-minute major penalties that do not result in the Blizzard playing shorthanded. Crouse has talked to the team about limiting the minutes, but he still wants to see them play hard.
“I don’t like restricting the guys from playing hard and playing aggressive,” Crouse said. “Come playoff time we are going to have to be battle tested.”
He added that once the playoffs begin it is important for teams to stay out of the penalty box.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE?
The Blizzard have fared much better on the road this season than at home playing in the Runestone Community Center.
This year Alexandria has a 14-5-0 record on the road while only skating to 9-9-0 at home. Crouse said he would like to see the team turn that around before the playoffs begin in March.
“We’ve got to make sure we establish some home ice advantage,” Crouse said.