Alexandria boys' hockey: Flyers flex their musclesLittle Falls looked like the dominant team in the Section 6A boys' hockey field at the RCC on Tuesday night
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
If the Little Falls boys’ hockey team was looking to make a statement against one of its biggest section rivals on Tuesday night, consider it a job well done by the Flyers.
Alexandria believes it has the talent to keep up with Little Falls, and the Cardinals may very well have one more opportunity to prove that in the playoffs. But on this night, The Flyers showed there is some ground to make up in a 6-0 win at the Runestone Community Center.
“They kind of got a couple lucky bounces,” Cardinals’ goaltender Ben Allen said. “And we kind of dwelled on it and couldn’t put it behind us. As soon as we started playing with our emotions, that gave them a definite edge.”
Allen was peppered all night by a Little Falls offense that came at him in waves. The Flyers outshot Alexandria 41-25, which included a 15-8 advantage in the first period.
That led to an early 2-0 lead that the Cardinals could never recover from. Flyers’ senior forward Ben Newman set the tone for the game by sending a wrister past Allen just 1:16 into the game. Newman added his second of the night almost four minutes later on a rebound.
“I felt like I needed to really control my rebounds,” Allen said. “I knew they were going to get some lucky breaks because they like to fly a guy into our zone, but it just didn’t go our way.”
Little Falls is a difficult team to come back on behind a strong defense and senior goaltender Michael Stumpf. That combination is allowing opposing teams just 1.5 goals per game on average.
In the second period, they proved they can put up points in a hurry as well. Little Falls took complete control of the game with four more goals that broke the game wide open. Mark Anez started that flurry by getting behind the defense and going top shelf for a 3-0 lead.
“Getting behind hurt our confidence,” Alexandria head coach Scott Woods said. “But if we would have gotten one at the start of the second, the period could have been completely different.”
The Cardinals had come out with some energy to start the second period, but that goal by Anez seemed to deflate any hopes they had of a comeback. Senior forward Austin Bjorge added two more goals before senior defenseman Taylor Drager put the finishing touches on things with a goal at 13:51.
“We were just off and they were sharp,” Woods said. “We changed our lineup hoping it would spark guys, but it didn’t work. I told the guys I will take the blame for that, and we each need to be willing to step up and improve wherever necessary.”
The Cardinals were trying to find a way to break out of a four-game losing streak that had dropped them to 8-9-1 overall. Woods knows the only way to do that is to remain positive with seven games left in the regular season heading into a game at Willmar last night, Thursday.
The Cardinals took one on the chin against the section favorites on Tuesday night. How they respond could go a long ways toward determining whether or not they will get a third chance at them come tournament time.
“We just got to get to practice tomorrow and have a purpose,” Allen said. “It’s almost impossible to beat a team three times, so no doubt in my mind we can beat them in the playoffs.”
LITTLE FALLS 2 4 0 – 6
ALEXANDRIA 0 0 0 – 0
SHOTS – Little Falls – 15, 18, 8 – 41; Alexandria – 8, 16, 1 – 25
FIRST PERIOD – Little Falls – Newman (Anez), 1:16; Little Falls – Newman (Bjorge, Spencer Fenske), 5:22
SECOND PERIOD – Little Falls – Anez (Bjorge), 1:44; Little Falls – Bjorge (Fenske, Nathan Adamietz), 8:38; Little Falls – Bjorge (PPG) (Newman, Fenske), 12:12; Little Falls – Drager (Connor Jorgensen), 13:51
GOALTENDING – Little Falls – Stumpf – W, 25 saves, 25 shots; Alexandria – Allen – L, 35 saves, 41 shots