Blizzard hockey: Alexandria splits with Coulee Region
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria Blizzard hasn’t had to worry about its goaltending for most of the season, but that didn’t stop head coach Doc DelCastillo from challenging his players in net after his team dropped its fourth game in five tries last Friday night.
Jacob Meyers has come back to earth the past couple weeks after being named the NAHL goalie of the month in November. Meyers took the loss after giving up four goals in a 6-3 game at Coulee Region on Friday that dropped his record in December to 1-3.
“We challenged them a little bit, especially Jacob going into Saturday night,” DelCastillo said. “I don’t know if that’s a fair expectation of a coach to expect what he did in the month of November. That was unreal. But he knew he was capable of playing better. He’s raised the bar and when you raise the bar, that’s what you come to expect.”
Meyers responded to his coach’s challenge with one of his best performances of the season. Coulee Region tested him in the first period with 13 shots as he turned aside every one of them. Meyers finished with 32 saves and his fourth shutout of the season in a 1-0 win.
“At the end of the season, if you’re standing with four or five shutouts, that’s pretty good,” DelCastillo said. “We’re half way through the season. Jacob responded well, so that’s awesome.”
Alexandria’s only goal came midway through the second period. Reid Sturos had only four goals going into the night but got a big one when he connected at the 10:25 mark.
Alexandria’s offense got the Blizzard off to a good start the night before on goals from Nick DeCenzo and Thomas Williams. That gave the Blizzard a 2-1 lead before the Chill took control in the second.
Coulee Region scored three times in the middle frame and never trailed again. Craig Lindegard got one back for the Blizzard about seven minutes into the third, but the Chill responded with two goals in the final seven minutes to pull away.
The split sent Alexandria into its Christmas break with a 16-10-2 record. The Blizzard currently sits in third place in the Central Division, one point behind Austin and 13 behind Bismarck. Alexandria has shown flashes of being the team it wants to be. The goal in the second half will be maintaining that consistency as this organization tries to capture its second straight playoff appearance.
“One thing we have to keep in perspective is we’re not even half way through our season,” DelCastillo said. “So we have a lot of hockey left. We have to get better. I think we’re setting ourselves up for a good second half. Usually we’re a second half team so things look good, but yet you have to be good in the second half.”
ALEXANDRIA 0 1 0 – 1
COULEE REGION 0 0 0 – 0
SHOTS – Alexandria – 8, 14, 14 – 36; Coulee Region – 13, 11, 8 – 32; Power plays – Alexandria – 0-4; Coulee Region – 0-6
SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – No scoring
SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Reid Sturos (Hayden Trupp, Craig Lindegard), 10:25
THIRD PERIOD – No scoring
GOALTENDING – Alexandria – Jacob Meyers – W, 32 saves, 32 shots; Coulee Region – David Heflin – L, 35 saves, 36 shots
PENALTIES – Alexandria – 12 minutes on six infractions; Coulee Region – eight minutes on four infractions
ALEXANDRIA 2 0 1 – 3
COULEE REGION 1 3 2 – 6
SHOTS – Alexandria – 13, 14, 22 – 49; Coulee Region – 9, 11, 10 – 30; Power plays – Alexandria – 0-5; Coulee Region – 1-5
SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Nick DeCenzo (Dylan Zink, Jordan Palusky), 5:03; Coulee Region – James Hughes (PPG) (Matt Blomquist, Mac Jansen), 18:19; Alexandria – Thomas Williams (Casey Purpur, Justin Moody), 19:47
SECOND PERIOD – Coulee Region – Tyler Klein (Eric Drapluk), 5:20; Coulee Region – Cory Lushanko (Matt Blomquist), 13:03; Coulee Region – Eric Swahn (David Ripple), 16:33
THIRD PERIOD – Alexandria – Craig Lindegard (Nick D’Avolio, Reid Sturos), 6:53; Coulee Region – Jake Useldinger (David Ripple), 14:12; Coulee Region – Mac Jansen (Cory Lushanko, Adam Thomas), 14:31
GOALTENDING – Alexandria – Jacob Meyers – L, 13 saves, 17 shots; Jameson Shortreed – 11 saves, 13 shots; Coulee Region – Aaron Davis – W, 46 saves, 49 shots
PENALTIES – Alexandria – 10 minutes on five infractions; Coulee Region – 10 minutes on five infractions