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Going on the offensive

Alexandria’s Kevin Finley brings the puck up the ice during the season opener against Little Falls on November 26. Finley and the Cardinals ran all over the Flyers 7-1. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Alexandria boys’ hockey team is dedicated to playing a more aggressive offense this year, and it showed in a 7-1 season-opening home victory Tuesday over Little Falls.

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In recent years, Little Falls had the upper hand on Alexandria. Last year they won three games against the Cardinals, including a 3-2 victory in the Section 6A semifinals.

“Little Falls has dominated us for many years, so it wasn’t real hard to get the guys ready to go tonight,” head coach Ian Resch said. “We came out flying and things worked out our way.”

The Cardinals dominated the play in the home opener, outshooting Little Falls 42-5. Defenseman Aaron Steidl opened up the scoring in the game with a goal at 9:51 in the first period. Although they outshot Little Falls 18-1 in the period, Alexandria only managed an early 1-0 lead.

That changed in the second period as the Alexandria offense managed five goals on 13 shots. Alec Wosepka, Chris Leary, Noah Hittle, Brady Bast and Ryan Marciniak all scored in the period to give the Cardinals a 6-0 lead.

In the third period, Alexandria and Little Falls both traded goals for a 7-1 final. Lukas Bigger scored at 4:10 in the third period before a late goal was scored by Little Falls’ Austin Fenske.

With a new head coach at the helm, the Alexandria boys’ hockey team is coming into the season with a more aggressive mindset on offense. This goal to keep up the pressure on offense showed against Little Falls as they were held to just five shots in the game.

“This year we’re all about speed, so we’re just flying out of the zone,” Wosepka said. “I feel like it’s a more high-tempo game where it’s going to work out for us.”

Before the season started, the Alexandria coaching staff had been working with the team to get the puck out of their own zone and let the forecheck take control. The goal is to spend as little time as possible in the defensive zone.

“One or two passes and we’re out,” Resch said. “If we can’t make direct passes we’re chipping pucks off the glass, wrapping pucks around the dasher. That way we’ve got some momentum coming through the neutral ice and we can get going on our forecheck.”

This new style of play has the Cardinals thinking on improvement this season. Last year they finished 11-14-1, including a 7-7-1 record in the Central Lakes Conference. With a more experienced lineup this year, Alexandria expects a chance at conference and section titles.

“This year we’re planning on getting that record a lot higher,” Wosepka said. “If things go the right way I think we should make it to state.”

The Cardinals only lost five letter winners from last year, and Resch said they have been dedicated to improving this season. The returning players have been working hard and that gives Alexandria confidence for the 2013-2014 season.

“That’s why I feel like we can really take a run at a conference or section championship, with the leadership and character type guys we have and the willingness to do the little things to be successful,” Resch said.


ALEXANDRIA 1 5 1 – 7

SHOTS – ALEXANDRIA – 18, 13, 11 – 42; LITTLE FALLS – 1 2 2 – 5

SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Aaron Steidl (Brady Bast), 9:51

SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Alec Wosepka (Ryan Marciniak), 1:00; Chris Leary (Toby Helgeson, Cammeran Brown), 2:19; Noah Hittle (Lukas Bigger, Danny Hennessy), 9:00; Bast, 11:00; Marciniak (SH), 16:00

THIRD PERIOD – Bigger (Hennessy), 4:10; Little Falls – Austin Fenske (Jack Schulte), 15:00

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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