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Boys hockey: Alex makes early-season statement against unbeaten Sartell

It's early. Only seven games into the season for Alexandria, but it's never too early to leave an impression against another section and conference power. That's what the Cardinal boys hockey team did on Thursday night as Alexandria (6-0-1) cruis...

Wosepka
Alexandria senior Alec Wosepka skates the puck toward Sartell goaltender Carter Kasianov before Wosepka scores his first of two goals on the night in the first period on Thursday. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

It’s early.

Only seven games into the season for Alexandria, but it’s never too early to leave an impression against another section and conference power. That’s what the Cardinal boys hockey team did on Thursday night as Alexandria (6-0-1) cruised past previously unbeaten Sartell-St. Stephen (7-1) in a 6-1 game at the Runestone Community Center.

“We definitely did,” senior forward Ryan Marciniak said when asked if they viewed it as a chance to make a statement. “Coach came into the locker room before the game and was telling us that this was a huge opportunity for our team to take a big step forward early in the season. He said if we got the ‘W’ it would be huge. Obviously, if we would have lost it would have been a step back, but we came out big tonight and got the ‘W’.”

The Cardinals left no doubt from the get-go. They scored three times in the opening period as junior Jack Steffl needed just three and a half minutes to put his team on the board. Senior Alec Wosepka added another at 5:10 in the opening frame before Marciniak created a turnover four minutes later and buried a breakaway opportunity for a 3-0 lead. It was the first of two goals for both Wosepka and Marciniak.

“It definitely brings up the morale,” Wosepka said of beating a good Sabres team. “Our team, we knew we were good before the game, but now I just think we know we’re that much better. We’re going to go into every game knowing we can win.”

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Thursday night was a flip of the script from the way things had gone for Sartell through its first seven games. The Sabres were averaging almost six goals per contest with a strong top line featuring senior Spencer Zwiener (11 goals, 11 assists), junior Matt Moran (7 goals, 12 assists) and sophomore Spencer Meier (2 goals, 13 assists).

Cardinals’ senior goaltender Christian Reimers played perhaps his best game of the season so far. His defense allowed 20 shots and didn’t give up a lot of great scoring chances. The ones the Sabres got, Reimers was there to stop. He allowed his only goal to Meier at 9:34 in the second period, and that came on a power play.

Sartell fought to get back in it during the second period. The Sabres put nine shots on goal, but Reimers was there to halt any chances at a comeback. The Sabres finished the game 1-for-6 on the power play, including an empty opportunity during a 5-on-3 when they were trailing 3-0 in the opening frame.

“To be honest, the first period we came out great,” Wosepka said. “We were moving the puck well. We were making nice plays. Then that second period, if we didn’t have Reimers playing as well as he did…all the credit goes to Reimers for this game. I’d say he was player of the game for sure today.”

The play of Reimers in net, a stingy defense in front of him and a deep offensive attack proved to be too much for Sartell. Alexandria came into the season believing it had multiple lines capable of putting up goals and it has proven true through seven games.

Four different players scored for the Cardinals against the Sabres and six guys tallied points. Marciniak had three after adding an assist to his two goals. Steffl finished with two points (1 goal, 1 assist), while sophomore Mack Strong added a second-period goal.

“We knew that was a strength coming into this season,” Marciniak said of the Cardinals’ depth. “Especially coming into this game, we knew they had a strong top line; that they were good. If we could shut them down, we could beat them with our depth tonight. It’s always nice going into a game knowing your second and third line are going to be able to perform just as well as your top line. Knowing you can put anybody out on the ice and they’ll help you compete and get the win.”

It was a good win, but still only counts as one in the overall standings. That’s what head coach Ian Resch wants his guys to remember. The Cardinals have to turn around and do it all over again two days later when they play defending Section 6A champion St. Cloud Cathedral in St. Cloud on Saturday.

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“They are a good team,” Resch said of Sartell. “I know they had some guys who were sick tonight and hurt, so one or two guys can change the makeup of a team. We’re really happy with our effort tonight, but we don’t want to look too far ahead. We just got to take it one game at a time and keep getting better because on Saturday we got Cathedral. I still say they’re the team to beat in the section. They’ve been there and know what it takes, so we’re going to have to be ready to play a total game on Saturday.”

That means the Cardinals don’t have long to celebrate a victory that left them as the only unbeaten team in the Central Lakes Conference at 5-0-1. This is a team that has goals of being a conference and section champion by season’s end. Thursday night was a step in the right direction, but won’t mean much if the Cardinals don’t build on it going forward.

“That’s the thing, we can’t get too big-headed,” Wosepka said. “We have to keep going, knowing that we have to go into every game playing as hard as we can. Knowing that if we don’t play to our potential that we could have a bad game and it could ruin our good season.”

GAME SUMMARY

ALEXANDRIA     3 1 2 – 6

SARTELL            0 1 0 – 1

SHOTS – Alexandria – 13, 9, 14 – 36; Sartell – 5, 9, 6 – 20

ALEXANDRIA – Steffl – 1 goal, 1 assist; Revering – 1 assist; Wosepka – 2 goals; Strong – 1 goal; Johnson – 1 assist; Marciniak – 2 goals, 1 assist

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SARTELL – Meier – 1 goal; Zwiener – 1 assist

GOALTENDING – Alexandria – Reimers – W, 19 saves, 20 shots faced; Carter Kasianov – L, 30 saves, 36 shots faced

 

Celebration
The Cardinals celebrate Alec Wosepka's second goal in the third period that made it a 5-1 game. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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