Blizzard hockey: Fight between teams gets NAHL's attentionBlizzard sweep weekend series
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria Blizzard passed a four-game road test with a 3-1 record on a trip that started in Minot two weeks ago and ended in Aberdeen, where tensions boiled over in the third period this past Saturday night.
Alexandria scored three goals in the final 1:19 on Friday night to turn what was a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 win over the Wings. A night later, Alexandria again had rallied from a 1-0 deficit to take a 3-1 lead into the third period.
Tensions had risen through those first two periods before thing got out of hand in the final frame. The two teams met at center ice, and at the drop of the puck, a melee broke out.
“All five of their guys jumped our guys,” Alexandria head coach Doc DelCastillo said. “I think they realized that they maybe jumped a few of the wrong guys. Our guys did extremely well. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think it was a classy move on their part, but so be it. That’s what it is. We took care of it and found a way to win a hockey game in the end.”
A total of 17 penalties were handed out when all was said and done. Aberdeen’s Ross Pavek, Joe Mottiqua, Wes Judnick and Tyler Dunagan were all given game misconducts. Alexandria was issued seven penalties, including fighting misconducts on Thomas Williams, Tucker Coborn and Charlie Aus.
The NAHL has a discipline committee that reviewed the fight and decided on the punishments earlier this week. Alexandria wasn’t dealt any suspensions and will have everyone available to them on Friday night.
The NAHL leaves it up to each team to decide whether or not they want to release information on league punishments. A call to Aberdeen head coach and general manager Pete Sauer seeking comment was not returned by the time this issue of the Echo Press went to print.
League commissioner Mark Frankenfeld isn’t involved in deciding the punishments but said fights like this go above and beyond what is acceptable in the NAHL.
“Hockey kind of evolved from being a sport of strong-willed men trying to own space,” Frankenfeld said. “From time to time, two willing combatants could have a fight combust in that action. Those are the types of fights that historically have been a part of the game. These other types of things are not acceptable and are not productive for anyone. These need to not be a part of our game.”
Four more points
In the end, escaping Aberdeen with four points was the most important outcome of the weekend for Alexandria.
The Blizzard needs to keep winning in an attempt to fend off Austin over the final three weeks of the regular season. The Bruins extended their winning streak to eight games with a six-point weekend from March 8-10. That was highlighted by a 6-2 win over Bismarck that moved Austin to within four points of Alexandria.
Seth Ronsberg made sure Alexandria would do its part to hang onto second place in the Central Division. The Blizzard forward finished with the hat trick on Saturday night. His two power play goals in the opening period gave Alexandria a 2-1 lead before Tucker Coborn made it 3-1 midway through the second period. Ronsberg put the finishing touches on the win with a goal 6:50 into the third.
It was the second straight night that Alexandria responded to an early deficit with four unanswered goals. Aberdeen took a 2-0 lead late into the second period on Friday before Sean Mostrom got the Blizzard on the board with 2:07 left in the middle period.
That is how things went into the final two minutes of the game before Alexandria erupted. Nick D’Avolio scored the equalizer at 18:41. Aidan Cavallini gave the Blizzard its first lead 31 seconds later before Thomas Williams added an empty-netter to secure a dramatic win for his team.
“They’ve done it the last four times we’ve played there,” DelCastillo said of the come-from-behind wins. “I think it’s a testament to our goaltending and our defense. When you give up the first goal like that, you want to make sure it doesn’t get out of your reach. We kept it 2-1 long enough, and that gave us an opportunity to still win a hockey game.”
Jacob Meyers got the win that night to move to 28-9-1 on the season. He turned aside 41 of the 43 shots he saw.
Schedule doesn’t get any easier
The schedule doesn’t let up this weekend as Alexandria welcomes in Bismarck tonight, Friday, before going on the road to take on the Bobcats on Saturday.
Alexandria is 3-5-2 against Bismarck so far this season. This is the last two times these teams will meet in the regular season.
“I think we know what type of game we have to play to be successful against them,” DelCastillo said. “That’s no different than how we’re going to have to play to be successful in the playoffs…it’s that time of year where the hay’s in the barn, and the guys know what they need to do. It’s a matter of executing and going out and doing it.”
ALEXANDRIA 2 1 1 – 4
ABERDEEN 1 0 0 – 1
SHOTS – Alexandria – 18, 19, 9 – 46; Aberdeen – 13, 14, 13 – 40; Power plays – Alexandria – 2-4; Aberdeen – 1-4
FIRST PERIOD – Aberdeen – CJ Reuschlein (PPG) (Cory Ward, Ross Pavek), 5:29; Alexandria – Seth Ronsberg (PPG) (Tucker Coborn, Thomas Williams), 6:43; Alexandria – Seth Ronsberg (PPG) (Tucker Coborn, Charlie Aus), 10:18
SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Tucker Coborn (Thomas Williams), 8:35
THIRD PERIOD – Alexandria – Seth Ronsberg (Thomas Williams, Vadim Gyesbreghs), 6:50
PENALTIES – Alexandria – 58 minutes on 11 infractions; Aberdeen – 68 minutes on 12 infractions
GOALTENDING – Alexandria – Jameson Shortreed – W, 32:56, 17 saves, 18 shots; Aberdeen – Marcus Zelzer – L, 42 saves, 46 shots
ALEXANDRIA 0 1 3 – 4
ABERDEEN 1 1 0 – 2
SHOTS – Alexandria – 9, 16, 18 – 43; Aberdeen – 21, 13, 9 – 43; Power plays – Alexandria – 0-3; Aberdeen – 1-3
FIRST PERIOD – Aberdeen – Ryan Wagner (PPG) (Cory Ward), 11:02
SECOND PERIOD – Aberdeen – Cullen Hurley (Trevor Husch), 14:27; Alexandria – Sean Mostrom (Nick DeCenzo, Grant Eichstadt), 17:53
THIRD PERIOD – Alexandria – Nick D’Avolio (Hayden Trupp, Michael Mooney), 18:41; Alexandria – Aidan Cavallini (Craig Lindegard), 19:12; Alexandria – Thomas Williams (empty net) (Michael Mooney), 19:51
PENALTIES – Alexandria – six minutes on three infractions; Aberdeen – six minutes on three infractions
GOALTENDING – Alexandria – Jacob Meyers – W, 41 saves, 43 shots; Aberdeen – Marcus Zelzer – L, 39 saves, 42 shots