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Blizzard wraps up regular season

Garrett Skinner (left) fights for a puck with Twin City’s Mathias Ahman during a game on February 7. Skinner and his Blizzard teammates will wrap up the regular season this weekend with two games at home. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Alexandria Blizzard hopes to finish its regular season on a winning streak through the final two games of the schedule this weekend before starting the NA3HL playoffs.

The two games come after Alexandria won a home game against Breezy Point and lost on the road in North Iowa last weekend.

Garrett Skinner and Mick Dhein scored two goals each to lead the Blizzard to a 10-0 win in a home game played in Sauk Centre against Breezy Point on Saturday. The next day Alexandria traveled down to North Iowa and lost a 4-0 game. Head coach Jeff Crouse said Alexandria was playing well against North Iowa before mistakes led to three goals for the Bulls in the third period.

“It was a real good game,” Crouse said. “I thought we outplayed them in the first, and a majority of the second period I thought we outplayed them.”

Alexandria’s final two home games will be played as they prepare for the NA3HL playoffs as the West Division’s third seed. Before the season started, the Blizzard hoped to finish in first place in the NA3HL’s West Division. Once they realized North Iowa was a dominant force in league, the Blizzard made their second-half goal to try and catch Granite City for second place.

They came close, but Granite City played well enough to maintain its hold on second as the playoffs begin. Heading into the final weekend of play, Granite City has an eight point lead on Alexandria in the standings.

“I am sure they got a little worried about things,” Crouse said. “That was our plan, to put some pressure on Granite City and finish the season on a winning streak.”

The Blizzard’s final two regular season home games are against Minnesota on Friday and Granite City on Saturday. Saturday’s game against Granite City will be important as the Blizzard will face them in the first round of the playoffs starting March 14. If Alexandria wins the game, the season series between the two teams would be even with four wins each.

“The playoffs could start Saturday,” head coach Jeff Crouse said. “That could be a message-sending game, especially in our barn.”

GAME STATISTICS

BREEZY POINT 0 0 0 – 0

ALEXANDRIA 2 4 4 – 10

SHOTS – BREEZY POINT (13, 6, 4) – 23; ALEXANDRIA (15, 19, 15) – 49

SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Garrett Skinner (PP) (Ian Ecklund, Tanner Elmore), 8:20; Mick Dhein (SH) (Drake Hunter), 18:08

SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Ecklund (Joe Anderson, Bo Gronseth), 2:10; Anderson (Gronseth, Gavin Mindt), 5:56; Hunter (Jody Randall, Dhein), 6:37; Nate Mettenburg (PENALTY SHOT), 8:21

THIRD PERIOD – Alexandria – Skinner (Mettenburg, Mitch Krafcheck), 0:44; Ryan Carriveau (Danny Pelzer, Trent Olson), 7:46; Randall (Dhein, Hunter), 14:39; Dhein (PP) (Aaron Ryback, Tom Schmidt), 19:11

GOALTENDING – Breezy Point – Troy Pierce, 39 saves on 49 shots; Alexandria – Tanner Elmore, 23 saves on 23 shots

ALEXANDRIA 0 0 0 – 0

NORTH IOWA 0 1 3 – 4

SHOTS – ALEXANDRIA (8, 8, 5) – 21; NORTH IOWA (9, 10, 7) – 26

SCORING – FIRST PERIOD (No scoring); SECOND PERIOD – North Iowa – Matt Fosdick (PP) (Chancie Hanson, Conor Jonasson), 5:48

THIRD PERIOD – North Iowa – Tim Santopoalo (Matt Kroska, Fosdick), 8:24; Wesley Iverson (Cameron Brown, Kyle Krueger), 10:38; Logan Murphy (Hanson, Jonasson), 12:15

GOALTENDING – Alexandria – Evan Bisek, 22 saves on 26 shots; North Iowa – Chris Amsden, 21 saves on 21 shots

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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