Eric Morken is the sports editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
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The Cardinal girls' basketball coaches preach a team concept, and they got that kind of team effort to push their winning streak to five games with an easy win over Sauk Rapids-Rice on Tuesday night. Alexandria had three players in double figures and used its defense to run away in the second half. The Cardinals only deficit came early when they trailed 3-2. They took control after that, putting up 48 points in the first half and going on to win 82-53. The Cardinals are used to getting big numbers from Lauren Trumm and Amanda Christianson.
The Alexandria Blizzard hasn't had to worry about its goaltending for most of the season, but that didn't stop head coach Doc DelCastillo from challenging his players in net after his team dropped its fourth game in five tries last Friday night. Jacob Meyers has come back to earth the past couple weeks after being named the NAHL goalie of the month in November. Meyers took the loss after giving up four goals in a 6-3 game at Coulee Region on Friday that dropped his record in December to 1-3. "We challenged them a little bit, especially Jacob going into Saturday night," DelCastillo said.
Parkers Prairie native Mark Ferley was recently afforded an opportunity that he missed out on growing up. Ferley graduated from Parkers Prairie High School in 1997 and has always had a passion for sports but couldn't take part in them himself. The 32-year-old graphic designer suffers from spina bifida, a congenital defect of the spine that has paralyzed him from the waist down. Ferley's disability kept him from actively participating in athletics but it didn't affect his passion for them.
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.
The Alexandria Blizzard couldn't afford to get off to a slow start in its match-up against the Russian Red Stars on Monday night, but that's exactly what happened in a 5-1 loss in front of an announced record crowd of 1,166 people at the Runestone Community Center. The Red Stars wasted no time asserting themselves as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period in what was the second game of eight exhibitions for the junior all-star team. Russia scored on a power play early before adding a breakaway goal off a turnover.
Minnetonka's Jacob Meyers has seen his second stint with the Alexandria Blizzard turn out better than his first. Meyers found himself second on the Blizzard depth chart last season behind veteran goaltender Jake Williams as his starts were limited to one every few games. He finished his first year in a Blizzard uniform with a 3.10 goals against average, an .875 save percentage and a 7-10-2 record. After a short stint with Tri-City in the United States Hockey League, Meyers returned to Alexandria after a handful of games this season with a renewed confidence in the net.
Alexandria Blizzard players have had one game in the back of their minds in the last couple months and it isn't with any of their Central Division rivals. Next Monday night, Alexandria will finally get to play that game when the Russian Red Stars come to the Runestone Community Center for the second of eight exhibition games the Russian all-star team will play in the United States over the next three weeks. "We're going to be very excited," Blizzard head coach Doc DelCastillo said.
The Brandon-Evansville girls' basketball team halted a two-game losing streak with a second-half comeback against Underwood last Friday before making it two straight with a win over Barnesville on Tuesday night. The Chargers jumped out to an 8-1 lead and never trailed in the win over Barnesville. The Trojans made it interesting down the stretch by overcoming a 14-point deficit with about eight minutes left in the game. Barnesville cut it all the way down to one in the final minute, but Brandon-Evansville held on to move to 3-2 on the young season.
The Ashby boys' basketball team moved to 3-0 on the season after an 81-69 win over Osakis that left both coaches questioning their team's defense on Tuesday night. Both teams got good looks at the basket for much of the night in a game where Ashby's athletes at every position outlasted the Silverstreaks in the end. Riley Mickelson is the centerpiece of that Arrows' attack. At 6'11," he is a rare luxury at the Class A level. Mickelson affected the game on both ends of the court. He got the ball where he wanted it in the post for much of the night on his way to 22 points.
The Cardinal boys' hockey team ran into the class of the Central Lakes Conference last Thursday night and found out it still has a ways to go with a relatively young roster. The Warriors came in 3-0 after outscoring its opponents 22-2 in its first three contests. They scored just once in the first period in Alexandria but broke out near the end of the second in what turned into an 8-0 loss for the Cardinals. "Brainerd will be the clear front-runner," Alexandria head coach Scott Woods said of the CLC race. "Their top line is very good.