Blizzard take two
It was certainly a step in the right direction.
The Alexandria Blizzard picked up a pair of wins over the weekend in a home-and-home contest against Owatonna, making inroads in their battle to move into second place in the North American Hockey League Central Division standings.
The Blizzard now sit at 18-16-4, four games and eight points back of the Express, who are 22-15-4. The Bismarck Bobcats sit firmly in the driver's seat with a 27-9-7 mark.
The Blizzard seemed to skate circles around the Express in Friday night's road game, winning 8-1 as they held Owatonna without a shot on goal through the first period. In the end, they kept the Express to just 11 shots on goal for the entire night, with Robert Tadazak stopping all but one shot sent his way.
And, as strong as the Blizzard defense proved to be, the offense was just as high powered, peppering the Express goal with a total of 32 shots.
Steve Zierke accounted for three of the eight Blizzard goals, one on a power play, while Simon Cederborg-Nilsson, Alex Altenbernd, Chris Annunziato, Brett Wall and Michael Pieper all added one each. Both Annunizato and Wall saw their goals come on power plays.
Former Blizzard goalie Matt Hemingway started in goal for the Express, giving way to Eric Wobschall after allowing five goals on 22 shots in two periods.
Alexandria 4, Owatonna 1
Returning home for a special night at the Runestone Community Center, the Blizzard continued their hot play Saturday night, defeating the Express 4-1 before a crowd of nearly 700 on "Hockey for Haiti" night.
Saturday night, both goalies spent a lot of time with their eyes on the puck as the two teams blasted away at the net, totaling 69 shots on goal between them.
Tadazak emerged the winner in the duel as he stopped all but one of the 33 shots by Owatonna, while Hemingway picked up his second loss in as many nights, making 37 saves in 41 tries.
In all, Alexandria sent 73 shots at goal between the two games.
Kyle Clay scored the first goal of the night on a play featuring an extra attacker, with Nardo Nagtzaam scoring on a power play in the second period.
In the third, Michael Benedict and Nagtzaam both scored for the Blizzard.
ALEXANDRIA 2 3 3 8
OWATONNA 0 0 1 1
ALEX - Simon Cederborg-Nilsson (Nardo Nagtzaam, Kyle Clay) 4:30, ALEX - Steve Zierke, power play (Chris Franks, Simon Cederborg-Nilsson) 10:50.
ALEX - Alex Altenbernd (Chris Annunziato, Steve Zierke) 7:27, ALEX - Chris Annunziato, power play (Brett Wall, Mike Krieg) 14:37, ALEX - Steve Zierke (Alex Altenbernd, Chris Annunziato) 17:13.
ALEX - Brett Wall, power play (Nardo Nagtzaam, Michael Pieper) 2:12, OWA - Jake Suter (Charlie Thauwald) 6:31, ALEX - Steve Zierke (Chris Annunziato, Billy Miller) 11:54, ALEX - Michael Pieper (Zach Fulton, Grant Dye) 12:04.
SHOTS ON GOAL - Alexandria 12-10-10-32; Owatonna 0-8-3-11.
GOALIE SAVES - Robert Tadazak, Alex, 10; Matt Hemingway, Owa, 17; Eric Wobschall, Owa, 7.
PENALTIES - Alexandria 8 minutes on 4 infractions, Owatonna 18 minutes on 9 infractions.
1ST STAR - Steve Zierke, Alex. 2ND STAR - Chris Annunziato, Alex. 3RD STAR - Simon Cederborg-Nilsson, Alex.
OWATONNA 0 1 1 1
ALEXANDRIA 1 1 2 4
ALEX - Kyle Clay, extra attacker (Nardo Nagtzaam, Chris Franks) 2:24.
ALEX - Nardo Nagtzaam, power play (Simon Cederborg-Nilsson, Chris Franks) 19:16.
OWA - Jake Youso (Dan Cecka, Brian McGinty) 1:15, ALEX - Michael Benedict (Brett Wall, Grant Dye) 2:03, ALEX - Nardo Nagtzaam (Simon Cederborg-Nilsson, Kyle Clay) 16:50.
SHOTS ON GOAL - Owatonna 11-7-15-33, Alexandria 16-13-12-41.
GOALIE SAVES - Matt Hemingway, Owa, 37, Robert Tadazak, Alex, 32.
PENALTIES - Owatonna 8 minutes on 4 infractions, Alexandria 4 minutes on 2 infractions.
1ST STAR - Robert Tadazak, Alex. 2ND STAR - Nardo Nagtzaam, Alex. 3RD STAR - Steve Zierke, Alex.
Players of the week
Robert Tadazak, goalie, and Nardo Nagtzaam, forward, were named the Sherwood/NAHL players of the week. (Nagtzaam was central player of the week, Tadazak was goalie of the week).
Nardo Nagtzaam - Alexandria Blizzard
Alexandria forward Nardo Nagtzaam struck for two goals and three assists as the Blizzard skated to a two-game sweep over Owatonna. On Friday, the Netherlands native registered a pair of assists in an 8-1 triumph.
The next night, the 19-year-old, who was recently acquired from the Alaska Avalanche, potted two goals, including the game-winner, as the Blizzard downed the Express, 4-1. He was also a plus-3 on the weekend.
"Nardo has been a good fit for our team, on and off the ice," said Blizzard head coach Doc DelCastillo. "He'll definitely be able to contribute offensively at the college level."
Robert Tadazak - Alexandria Blizzard
Alexandria goaltender Robert Tadazak backstopped the Blizzard to a two-game sweep over Owatonna, turning aside 42 of 44 shots. On Friday, the Lapeer, Mich., native made 10 saves in an 8-1 victory. The next night, the 19-year-old stopped 32 shots as the Blizzard downed the Express, 4-1.
"Robert was exceptional last weekend," said Blizzard head coach Doc DelCastillo. "He came up with the all the saves he needed to make, as well as a few big ones, and played a key role in our success."