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NA3HL: Blizzard gains cushion heading into weekend series

The Alexandria Blizzard felt two teams breathing down its neck this week and pulled out a much-needed 7-2 win over the New Ulm Steel on Wednesday at the Runestone Community Center.

With the win, Alexandria keeps sole possession of second place in the West Division with 54 points, while the Steel and Breezy Point sit close behind with 51 each.

The Blizzard outshot New Ulm 15-8 in the first period Wednesday, but it wasn't until the 17th minute that it was finally able to get on the board.

Caleb Anderson scored at the 16:38 mark, assisted by captain Jack Cernohous and Dawson Ellingworth.

With 26 seconds left in the first period, Tommy Giller beat Steel goalie Jon Albers to stretch the lead to 2-0. Emil Lindfors and Riley Meyer picked up helpers on the play.

By the midway point of the game, Alexandria doubled its lead with goals from Lindfors and Brendan Payne, and the Steel was finally able to answer with a goal at the 10 minute, 45 second mark to make it 4-1.

Ellingworth scored the Blizzard's next two goals, one in the second period and one in the first minute of the third, and Steel forward Alex Nagel and Cernohous traded goals over the following five minutes to bring the score to its final, 7-2.

Ellingworth finished with two goals and an assists for the Blizzard, Anderson added a goal and three assists and Payne, a goal and two assists.

Brey Effertz had 26 saves and earned the win in goal for Alexandria, while Albers allowed seven goals on 38 shots before being pulled in the third period for Nathan Siclovan, who stopped all six of his shots faced.

Alexandria hopes to stay on the winning side of things this weekend, as it tries to hold off Breezy Point and keep second place behind Granite City (29-7-6).

The North Stars (24-16-3) swept the Blizzard last weekend, taking two 3-2 shootout wins on Friday and Saturday.

The puck drops at 7:10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24 at the RCC and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Breezy Point Hockey Center.

BLIZZARD 2 3 2 — 7

STEEL 0 1 1 — 2

SHOTS — ALX 15 15 14 — 44; NUS 8 8 12 — 28

FIRST PERIOD — 1, ALX, Anderson (Cernohous, Ellingworth), 16:38; 2, ALX, Giller (Lindfors, Meyer), 19:34

SECOND PERIOD — 3, ALX, Lindfors (Meyer, Bowe), 3:26; 4, ALX, Payne (Anderson, Mann), 8:35; 5, NUS, Nosov (Erickson, Martinez), 10:45; 6, ALX, Ellingworth (Anderson, Payne), 13:47

THIRD PERIOD — 7, ALX, Ellingworth (Anderson, Payne), 0:59; 8, NUS, Nagel (Egle, Hermkes), 2:05; 9, ALX, Cernohous (Unassisted), 5:55

GOALTENDING — ALX, Effertz (W) - 26 saves, 2 goals allowed; NUS, Albers (L) - 31 saves, 7 goals allowed; Siclovan - 6 saves, 0 goals allowed