Blizzard hockey: Alexandria builds momentum in new yearAlexandria has yet to lose in 2013
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria Blizzard knew it needed to take care of business against the lower-level teams in its division in the month of January. So far, this team has done just that.
The Blizzard moved to 5-0 in 2013 with two more easy wins this past weekend. Alexandria dominated its game against Breezy Point, winning 9-2 on Saturday after taking advantage of its shot opportunities in a 5-1 win over Minnesota a day earlier.
“The big thing is they have confidence going right now,” head coach Jeff Crouse said. “I’ve been preaching consistency and bringing it every night and how it’s not about who you’re playing. In our division, if you don’t show up, you’re going to get beat no matter who you’re playing. We needed to take care of ourselves and how we play, and it’s definitely paid off these past few weeks.”
It helps having the second-leading scorer in the league in Proctor native Ian Ecklund. He moved his points total to 53, six behind the NA3HL’s top scorer Nico Vecchio of Three Rivers, with a five-point weekend. Ecklund scored twice and added an assist in the rout of Breezy Point after having a goal and an assist in the win over Minnesota on Friday.
He got plenty of help against the North Stars on Saturday. Danny Pelzer and Ricky Seidel each added two goals as well. Tanner Duffney, Richie Brown and Levi Erickson also scored in a game that saw the Blizzard outshoot Breezy Point 59-25.
This recent winning streak started with the team’s biggest win of the season against North Iowa on January 4. To that point, Alexandria hadn’t beaten either of the top two teams in the West Division. Since then, the Blizzard has pulled within six points of that second spot that is currently held by Granite City. Overtaking the Lumberjacks is definitely something this team has its sights set on coming down the stretch.
“We got to talking about our goals and where we want to finish in the standings,” Crouse said. “Our goal is to win a national championship. I think that first game back against North Iowa, the guys saw, ‘Hey, this is the best team in the league, and we handled them in our barn.’ It just gave us the extra confidence boost to say we can do this, and we can win a national championship this year. We’ve definitely made that our goal and it’s carried over since then.”
Now it’s on the Blizzard to keep it going with six more games at home before embarking on another showcase tournament on February 18. Alexandria will welcome Breezy Point back to the Runestone Community Center tonight, Friday, before Twin City comes to Alexandria next Wednesday for a 7 p.m. drop of the puck.
It’s at the point in the season where every game is important for this team as it tries to position itself with a top seed heading into the playoffs.
“We got to take care of business here on our home ice,” Crouse said. “We like the way we’re playing, and we need to make sure we get good and rested up for that stretch in February and March. The biggest thing is we want to put ourselves in position to get a one or two seed in the end.”
ALEXANDRIA 2 4 3 – 9
BREEZY POINT 1 1 0 – 2
SHOTS – Alexandria – 21, 19, 19 – 59; Breezy Point – 9, 8, 8 – 25
FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Ecklund (Kyle Kuntz), 0:44; Alexandria – Pelzer (PPG) (Garrett Skinner, Karson Kuntz), 10:31; Breezy Point – Joseph Santelli (Bryson Jasper, Anthony Martinez), 17:56
SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Duffney (Pelzer, Hunter Bowlin), 1:23; Alexandria – Richie Brown (Nate Mettenburg, Drake Hunter), 10:15; Alexandria – Erickson (Sean Casey), 14:30; Alexandria – Ecklund (Skinner, Seidel), 14:44; Breezy Point – Kyle Whipple (PPG) (Turk Scatliff, Ryan Schroeder), 19:55
THIRD PERIOD – Alexandria – Seidel (Ecklund), 2:54; Alexandria – Seidel (Karson Kuntz, Kyle Kuntz), 14:30; Alexandria – Pelzer (Sergey Erileev, Austin Rudnick), 17:07
GOALTENDING – Alexandria – Kyle Miller – W, 23 saves, 25 shots; Breezy Point – Walker Enstad – L, 40:43, 35 saves, 41 shots; Erikur Arnason – 19:17, 15 saves, 18 shots
MINNESOTA 0 1 0 – 1
ALEXANDRIA 0 3 2 – 5
SHOTS – Minnesota – 10, 6, 7 – 23; Alexandria – 7, 11, 5 – 23
FIRST PERIOD – No scoring
SECOND PERIOD – Minnesota – Alex Yde (Mason Wyman, Jared Sprink), 7:55; Alexandria – Dhein (Richie Brown, Hunter), 8:31; Alexandria - Erickson (Sean Casey , Bryce Mitzel), 10:33; Alexandria – Erileev (Duffney, Pelzer), 10:49
THIRD PERIOD – Ecklund (Skinner, Seidel), 4:46; Alexandria – Duffney (PPG) (Chayce Coenen, Ecklund), 9:29
GOALTENDING – Minnesota – Allen Patten – L, 18 saves, 23 shots; Alexandria – Chase Wilson – W, 22 saves, 23 shots