Card boys' hockey: Alexandria looks for another state hockey trip
The Alexandria boys' hockey team is playing like a group that is determined to take advantage of the opportunity that was put in front of it in this year's Section 6A tournament.
The Cardinals are just one win away from their second straight state tournament appearance after a 4-0 win over St. Cloud Apollo on Saturday night.
The Eagles could not carry over any momentum from their win over top-seeded Little Falls in the quarterfinals four nights earlier. The Cardinals dominated the pace of play, outshooting Apollo 57-25 as they secured their spot in the section finals tomorrow night in St. Cloud.
"We got better as the game went along," head coach Scott Woods said. "Apollo has been playing well the last month, beating Little Falls and lost to Sartell 4-2 with an open net goal. So it was good to not only beat them, but put up 57 shots."
Alexandria began to make those opportunities count in the second period. The Cardinals outshot the Eagles 18-11 in the first but had nothing to show for it as they went into the first intermission in a scoreless tie.
The constant barrage of shots caught up with Apollo in the second as Alexandria scored four goals to break the game open. Brock Wood started things with a goal at 2:36 before Garrett Skinner added to it at 9:24. Jordan Domine then created some breathing room with two goals in the final five minutes of the period to send his team into the third with all the momentum.
"It was such a relief," Woods said. "We haven't been able to get a big lead very often this year. It helped us see how we would respond in the third. We could have sat back and given away the lead, but we had even more shots on net and didn't let up."
The Cardinals were not able to add to the lead, but they kept Apollo from having any chance at a comeback. Alexandria kept attacking, putting up 22 shots to the Eagles' 10 in the final period.
Sophomore goaltender Ben Allen and the Alexandria defense made things difficult on the other end. Allen got his first shutout in postseason play by turning aside all 25 shots he faced.
It was not just that they won, but how they won that has this team confident going into the section finals on Thursday night.
"I think they feel good about how they are playing," Woods said of his team. "We are peaking when we need to, and that is all that matters at this point of the season. There have been so many close games we haven't pulled out this year, but we are now, and these are the ones that really matter."
They will have to continue that to complete their run through the section tournament. Alexandria will take on Willmar for the third time this season after the Cardinals beat second-seeded Sartell, 3-2, on Saturday night.
These two teams split their two regular season meetings. Alexandria won 3-2 on December 9 before Willmar avenged that with a 4-2 victory on its home ice on January 25. There will be a lot more on the line when they meet at the Municipal Athletic Complex at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
"We just need to play confident," Woods said. "We can't turn the puck over around the blue lines. When we pass the puck and move our feet to get open, we look like a different team."
ST. CLOUD APOLLO 0 0 0 - 0
ALEXANDRIA 0 4 0 - 4
SHOTS - Apollo - 11, 4, 10 - 25; Alexandria - 18, 17, 22 - 57
SCORING SUMMARY - FIRST PERIOD - No scoring
SECOND PERIOD - Alexandria - Brock Wood (Charlie Wensman, Scott Hennen), 2:36; Alexandria - Garrett Skinner, unassisted, 9:24; Alexandria - Jordan Domine, unassisted, 13:56; Alexandria - Domine (Chase Porter), 16:11
THIRD PERIOD - No scoring
GOALTENDING - Apollo - Charlie Pentz - L, 53 saves, 57 shots faced; Alexandria - Ben Allen - W, 25 saves, 25 shots faced
6A BOYS' HOCKEY
SEEDINGS - 1. Little Falls, 2. Sartell, 3. Willmar, 4. Fergus Falls, 5. Alexandria, 6. Detroit Lakes, 7. Northern Lakes, 8. MBA_Storm, 9. St. Cloud Apollo, 10. Prairie Center, 11. Wadena-Deer Creek.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19
St. Cloud Apollo 4, MBA Storm 3
Northern Lakes 2, Prairie Centre 0
Detroit Lakes 7, Wadena-Deer Creek 3
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22
St. Cloud Apollo 3, Little Falls 1
Alexandria 5, Fergus Falls 4 2OT
Sartell 6, Northern Lakes 0
Willmar 4, Detroit Lakes 1
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26
SEMIFINALS AT THE MAC,
Alexandria 4, St. Cloud Apollo 0
Willmar 3, Sartell 2
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
Alexandria vs. Willmar, 7 p.m. at MAC, St. Cloud