Card boys' hockey: Big victory for Alexandria
The Alexandria boys' hockey team got a win that could go a long ways toward instilling some confidence in a young group going forward.
The Cardinals welcomed in Little Falls last Thursday night, a team many consider the favorites in the Section 6A field this year. The Flyers played like that through the first 19 minutes to take a 3-0 lead. From that point on, it was all Alexandria as the Cardinals came back in dramatic fashion before winning 4-3 in overtime.
"Extremely," head coach Scott Woods said when asked how impressed he was with his team's ability to battle back. "It would have been easy to fold. I really don't think our guys quit, even in the Brainerd game. They are a very competitive group. It shows up in practice as well. That will be a good thing to look back to if we get down in the playoffs."
Senior Charlie Wensman capped off the comeback with the game winner in overtime. He made the most of a Little Falls turnover when he collected the puck before putting it in the back of the net for his second goal of the night.
The turning point came 49 seconds after Auggie Maciej gave Little Falls a 3-0 lead. Alexandria's Tom Schmidt gave his team some life when the senior forward connected off assists from Matt Resch and Toby Helgeson. Wensman then gave Alexandria all the momentum when he converted a 2-on-1 opportunity off a pass from Garrett Skinner with less than three minutes left in the period. His goal made it a one-goal game going into the second intermission.
"The first goal got us fired up," Woods said. "The second one really made us believe. That's when we started backchecking and picking up sticks. We realized we could win if we didn't give up another one."
The Cardinal defense and goaltender Ben Allen made sure they didn't. Alexandria's blue line upped the pressure in its defensive zone in the final period. That made things easier on Allen, who made all the saves down the stretch to earn his third of the year. He ended the night with a season-high 47 saves.
Schmidt wasted little time bringing his team all the way back in the third period. He scored his second of the night one minute, 33 seconds into the final frame to even things up at three apiece.
That's how the game remained until Wensman gave Alexandria a thrilling win in the extra session. The Cardinals were outshot 50-25 but did enough of the little things to pick up a big early-season win.
"It is a big booster," Woods said. "Not only to beat them but to come back. They also know they can get outshot but play good defensively so the shots don't matter so much. It's the rebounds and in-close shots that we are concerned with. Ben needs to see and be ready for the first one."
The Cardinals moved to 3-1 with the win. More importantly, they proved to themselves that they can play with one of the top teams in the conference and section field.
"I think it will go a long way," Woods said. "I have mentioned our young team many times. We do have several seniors, but the supporting cast around them is young in terms of age and experience."
LITTLE FALLS 2 1 0 0 - 3
ALEXANDRIA 0 2 1 1 - 4
SHOTS - Little Falls - 16, 16, 13, 5 - 50; Alexandria - 8, 7, 9, 1 - 25
SCORING - FIRST PERIOD - Little Falls - Mark Anez (Michael Holthaus), 5:01; Little Falls - Alex Nelson (Auggie Maciej, Michael Holthaus), 8:32
SECOND PERIOD - Little Falls - Auggie Maciej (Alex Nelson), 1:27; Alexandria - Tom Schmidt (Matt Resch, Toby Helgeson), 2:16; Alexandria - Charlie Wensman (Garrett Skinner, Brock Wood), 14:06
THIRD PERIOD - Alexandria - Tom Schmidt, 1:33
OVERTIME - Alexandria - Charlie Wensman, 2:01
GOALTENDING - Little Falls - L, Michael Stumpf - L, 21 saves, 25 shots; Alexandria - Ben Allen - W, 47 saves, 50 shots