Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor 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 Alexandria Blizzard jumped back into its schedule on Friday night by hosting division rival Granite City in a game that saw the Lumberjacks score three in the third for a 6-4 win. Will Mix scored the go-ahead goal at 17:43 of the third to make it 5-4 Granite City. Keenan Lund put the finishing touches on things with an empty netter with 46 seconds to play.
The Alexandria boys hockey team got the boost it was looking for in three straight games up north as the Cardinals halted a six-game winless streak with wins in Coleraine, Virginia and Hibbing between Christmas and New Year’s. The last of those came exactly like the first as Alexandria won a 5-4 overtime game, this time against Hibbing-Chisholm (6-4) on Thursday. The Cardinals (5-3-3) started the week by beating Greenway-Nash-Kee (9-2-1) 5-4 in overtime on Dec. 27 after trailing 4-2 in the third.
The West Central Area boys basketball team won the Pelican Rapids Holiday Tournament on Thursday by knocking off Warroad 52-47 in overtime. The Knights (3-3) have lost two games that came down to the final possession this season and it was their turn to win a close one against the Warriors (4-4). West Central Area used some timely stops in overtime and six straight free throws from Brady Sabolik to seal the game. Warroad senior Tommy Vilayphone had tied the game at 44 apiece at the end of regulation by hitting a shot with two seconds left.
High school sports tend to be about taking advantage of opportunities. Players graduate each year and new athletes have their chance to emerge. Coaches see what's coming through the system, but athletes still have to prove themselves to everyone else at the varsity level. Through a 4-0 start, the Alexandria boys basketball team is seeing that take shape with some newcomers adjusting well to that competition early on.
A third deer infected with chronic wasting disease has been discovered in southeastern Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources. A hunter harvested the deer in mid-November about five miles north of the two previously reported infected deer, which were killed about four miles west of Lanesboro. An area taxidermist later provided a sample for testing to the DNR.
Alexandria girls basketball coach Wendy Kohler knew the challenge her team was in for trying to stop Watertown-Mayer’s backcourt duo of Kirstin Klitzke and Claire Killian in the championship game of the AAHS Holiday Tournament on Wednesday night. Kohler knows them well with both of them playing on the same Minnesota Comets AAU program as Alexandria’s Macy Hatlestad, Kendall Kohler and Kayla Feldhake.
The oak trees that had long since dropped their leaves were covered in ice and snow. It was Nov. 19, and the first blizzard of the season had hit much of Minnesota the day before. I drove through near whiteout conditions to be in the deer stand the following morning. A trip that normally takes two hours took four, but the snow was going to stop and the winds would die down with frigid temperatures remaining through the weekend. That sounded like a recipe to get deer on their feet.
The Alexandria girls basketball team set its schedule this past spring thinking that its 2016 holiday tournament would feature the same field of Buffalo, Hutchinson, Robbinsdale Armstrong and the Cardinals that it did in 2015. Instead, two teams pulled out and a Class A program in Minnesota Transitions Charter out of Minneapolis joined to fill out the four teams of Alexandria, Watertown-Mayer and Buffalo.
The Alexandria boys hockey team looked to be finding some of the early-season magic that led to a fast start after a bit of a lull through mid-December. The Cardinals seemed down and out against a previously one-loss Greenway-Nash-Kee (8-2) team before storming back to win 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday.
BOYS BASKETBALL WCA VS. Underwood at Pelican Rapids Tournament, 2:30 p.m. GIRLS BASKETBALL Alexandria vs. Watertown-Mayer at AAHS Holiday Tourney, 6:30 p.m. WCA vs Pelican Rapids at Pelican Rapids Tournament, 6 p.m. Minnewaska at Minneota (at SMSU), 2 p.m. BOYS HOCKEY Alexandria at Virginia, 7:30 p.m. GIRLS HOCKEY