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NA3HL: Blizzard slides into second place with OT win over Breezy Point

Blizzard forward Josiah Roen celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal to beat Breezy Point 4-3 in overtime. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press) 1 / 4
Blizzard center Brendan Payne looks for an opening as he skates in on a breakaway during Wednesday's game against Breezy Point. Payne scored the tying goal late in the third period to set the Blizzard up for the overtime 4-3 win. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)2 / 4
Blizzard captain Jack Cernohous winds up for a clapper during Wednesday night's game against the Breezy Point North Stars. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)3 / 4
The Blizzard hockey team celebrates its 4-3 sudden death win moments after Josiah Roen scored the game-winning goal 22 seconds into overtime. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)4 / 4

Josiah Roen was the hero Wednesday night at the Runestone Community Center, extending the winning streak to four games by scoring the Blizzard’s game-winning goal 22 seconds into overtime to lift Alexandria over the Breezy Point North Stars in the game and in the standings.

“We won the faceoff back, and then I crashed the net,” Roen said of the play leading up to the goal. “The puck missed the net and came right to the other side and I just shot it in. It was just a rush of emotions. I was so happy.”

The Blizzard (21-10-0) haven’t lost since the turn of the calendar, snagging four division wins over Willmar (2), division-leading Granite City and Breezy Point.

“(This win) puts us in a very good position to move up in the standings and maybe even get in first later in the season,” said Roen. “You can’t lose division games, especially this late in the season. It’s such a tough division. Every point counts.”

Alexandria trailed the North Stars (20-11-2) by a 3-2 deficit through most of the third period, until Brenden Payne capitalized during a late power play opportunity and one-timed a Caleb Anderson pass into the net before Breezy Point goalie Bronson Moore could slide over and get his glove on it.

Josh Laven opened the game’s scoring 1 minute, 6 seconds in to take a 1-0 North Stars lead, but Logan Norman tied it at one goal apiece with 2:11 left in the period.

Emil Lindfors pulled the Blizzard ahead 2-1 in the second minute of the second period, tipping a point shot from Steven Gustafson into the net.

But Breezy Point tied it back up less than a minute later on a Steven Kukla goal, and then Christian Lenzmeier gave the North Stars a 3-2 lead with a goal at the 11:24 mark, where the score stayed until Payne tied it with his rocket in the third to set up Roen for the winning goal during the 3-on-3 overtime period.

Blizzard goalie Brey Effertz stopped 20 of the North Stars’ 23 shots, while Moore allowed four goals out of 41 Blizzard shots.

The win vaults Alexandria over Breezy Point into second place in the West Division, with Granite City still sitting at the top with a record of 21-4-6.

The Blizzard is on a stretch of 16 divisional-opponent games, with 10 to go including four more against Breezy Point.

“It was big just getting off to a good start,” Alexandria assistant coach Jon Crouse said. “We’ve got these guys five times over the next five weeks, and this was the first time at home, so to be able to set the tone here tonight with a big overtime win – moves us up into second place for the time being – it was big for us, big for our confidence moving forward with a tough stretch coming up.”

The Blizzard faces the New Ulm Steel for a home-and-home series Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game will be at home at the RCC, with Saturday’s game to follow at the New Ulm Civic Center. Both games are scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

“Their forwards are really good, really skilled,” Crouse said of the Steel. “Their arena down there in New Ulm is olympic sized, so it’s a little bigger. They give some people some trouble. They went on a little slump in December with a bunch of guys hurt, but they’re healthy now. So hopefully we’ll be able to neutralize them with good defense and see what we can do down there.”

ALX     1 1 1 1 – 4

BP     1 2 0 0 – 3

SHOTS – ALX 14 12 13 – 41; BP 8 7 8 – 23. GOALTENDING (Saves-Shots) – ALX, Brey Effertz 20-23; BP, Bronson Moore 37-41.

FIRST PERIOD – 1, BP, Laven (Flicek, Taylor), 1:06; 2, ALX, Norman (Meyer, Ellingworth), 17:49.

SECOND PERIOD – 3, ALX, Lindfors (Gustafson, Payne), 1:21; 4, BP, Kukla (Blanchette, El-Wailli), 2:15; 5, BP, Lenzmeier (Rickard, Boyer), 11:24.

THIRD PERIOD – 6, ALX (Power Play), Payne (Anderson, Nilson), 18:19.

OVERTIME – 7, ALX, Roen (Nilson, Nelson), 0:22.