Blizzard hockey: No signs of slowing downA win over the division-leading Bobcats was the biggest statement of Alexandria's 10-game winning streak
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria Blizzard is as hot as any team in the North American Hockey League right now after a 6-4 win over Bismarck gave this team its 10th straight victory.
The Bobcats came in with the second best record in the NAHL at 31-5-1. The Blizzard beat a four-win Minot team 6-2 and 3-1 last Thursday and Friday night, but getting a win against one of the best teams in the North American Hockey League carried a little extra weight on Saturday night.
“I think it’s big,” head coach Doc DelCastillo said. “I was really happy for the team and for the fans. We had a lot of people in the building on Saturday night. The fans were in the game, and it was just a great hockey game…it boiled down to about a 12-minute game, and I thought we played a really good third period.”
Alexandria scored twice in the final nine minutes to break open a 4-4 game. Justin Moody’s goal at 11:10 gave his team a lead it would not relinquish. Reid Sturos then put the finishing touches on the team’s first win over Bismarck this season with an empty-net goal with 13 seconds left.
It was a fitting ending to a big weekend for Sturos. The Brighton, Mich. native had four points against the Bobcats on two goals and two assists. He finished the weekend with six points, earning him the third-star of the week award from the NAHL. In 31 games played for Alexandria this season, he has 29 points.
Sturos is a big part of the depth on this team that has made Alexandria so dangerous. He is second on the team in points and is one of 18 players with at least 10 points. Nick D’Avolio leads the way with 32 points after three points on two goals and an assist in the win over Bismarck.
DelCastillo has had more explosive individual scorers during his time in Alexandria but never this kind of depth. Combine that with Jacob Meyers establishing himself as one of the best goalies in the NAHL, and it’s possible this could be the most dangerous team DelCastillo has had in the last three years.
“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about things like that,” he said. “At this time of the season, you really have to concentrate on developing and adding the little things that might help you win hockey games…but I do like our depth. I like the direction we’re going but a lot of things can happen between now and the end of the season.”
DelCastillo has always taken a one-game-at-a-time approach, but he knows not all wins are created equal when it comes to boosting this team’s confidence. Four of Alexandria’s last 10 wins have come against Austin and Aberdeen, two teams that are chasing the Blizzard for the second seed in the Central Division. Those two, along with Bismarck, are the teams Alexandria will be measuring itself against as the playoffs approach.
“They’ve only lost six games all year,” DelCastillo said of the Bobcats. “So you use them as a little bit of a barometer, a little bit of a gauge. We’re at a lot different place right now than when we lost to them [9-3 in Bismarck]. But like I told the team the other night, there’s still a lot of hockey left this season. I don’t want to think that we have peaked right now, or we’ve maxed [our potential].”
The Blizzard will have a chance to prove itself against the same two teams again this weekend. Alexandria will travel to Minot tonight, Friday, before welcoming in Bismarck to the Runestone Community Center for a 5 p.m. game on Sunday. It’s another opportunity to pick up a statement win against a Bobcats team that doesn’t want to give the Blizzard any hope of catching them atop the Central Division.
“Going to Minot, we’ve been there twice already and have two wins,” DelCastillo said. “But that’s not an easy place to get to. That’s a long bus ride and the mental toughness part of getting off the bus and performing at your top level is important. We’ll worry about that one, and then we’ll worry about Sunday when Sunday comes around.”
BISMARCK 2 1 1 – 4
ALEXANDRIA 2 2 2 – 6
SHOTS – Bismarck – 14, 11, 8 – 33; Alexandria – 13, 12, 19 – 44; Power plays – Bismarck – 2-8; Alexandria – 3-8
SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Nick D’Avolio (PPG) (Michael Mooney, Aidan Cavallini), 13:17; Bismarck – Adam Knochenmus (Daniel Zawacki, Bryce Anderson), 13:51; Alexandria – Reid Sturos, unassisted, 17:44; Bismarck – Danny Ray (PPG) (Castan Sommer, Bryce Schmitt), 18:51
SECOND PERIOD – Bismarck (PPG) (Danny Ray, Tyler Richter), 3:36; Alexandria – Hayden Trupp (PPG) (Nick D’Avolio, Reid Sturos), 7:12; Alexandria – D’Avolio (PPG) (Nick DeCenzo, Reid Sturos), 11:00
THIRD PERIOD – Bismarck – Tyler Richter (Patrick Moore), 2:16; Alexandria – Justin Moody (Seth Ronsberg, Hayden Trupp), 11:10; Alexandria – Reid Sturos (empty net) (Aidan Cavallini, Brandon Parker), 19:47
GOALTENDING – Bismarck – Tommy Burke – L, 38 saves, 43 shots; Alexandria – Jacob Meyers – W, 29 saves, 33 shots
PENALTIES – Bismarck – 16 minutes on eight infractions; Alexandria – 16 minutes on eight infractions
MINOT 0 1 1 – 2
ALEXANDRIA 3 2 1 – 6
SHOTS – Minot – 15, 13, 12 – 40; Alexandria – 21, 16, 6 – 43; Power plays – Minot – 2-4; Alexandria – 1-8
SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Seth Ronsberg (Tucker Coborn, Thomas Williams), 5:00; Alexandria – Justin Moody (Michael Mooney, Hayden Trupp), 8:58; Alexandria – Justin Moody (Hayden Trupp, Casey Purpur), 16:31
SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Reid Sturos (SH) (unassisted), 2:53; Alexandria – Seth Ronsberg (PPG) (Tucker Coborn, Charlie Aus), 12:00; Minot – Nolan Meyer (PPG) (Austin Hoff, Ben Hughes), 16:47
THIRD PERIOD – Minot – Nolan Meyer (PPG) (Carl Krieger, Denis Dalidovich), 3:21; Alexandria – Gage Torrel (Grant Eichstadt, Craig Lindegard), 13:37
GOALTENDING – Minot – Tim Shaughnessy – L, 19 saves, 23 shots; Alexandria – Jameson Shortreed – W, 38 saves, 40 shots
PENALTIES – Minot – 19 minutes on eight infractions; Alexandria – 25 minutes on seven infractions
MINOT 0 0 1 – 3
ALEXANDRIA 1 1 1 – 3
SHOTS – Minot – 12, 8, 13 – 33; Alexandria – 15, 19, 11 – 45; Power plays – Minot – 0-4; Alexandria – 0-2
SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Seth Ronsberg (Tucker Coborn, Thomas Williams), 3:41
SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Craig Lindegard (Gage Torrel, Nick DeCenzo), 11:35
THIRD PERIOD – Minot – Hunter Bergerson (Denis Dalidovich), 6:49; Alexandria – Aidan Cavallini (Charlie Aus, Reid Sturos), 7:51
GOALTENDING – Minot – Jake Hebda – L, 42 saves, 45 shots; Alexandria – Jacob Meyers – W, 32 saves, 33 shots
PENALTIES – Minot – six minutes on three infractions; Alexandria – 10 minutes on five infractions