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Card boys' hockey: Redbirds fall to the Eagles at state

A motivated Rochester Lourdes team ended the season for the Alexandria boys' hockey team last Thursday in a 7-0 game at Mariucci Arena. The Eagles were determined to play a third game after getting upset by Hibbing-Chisholm 4-0 in the first round...

Ben Allen
Eric Morken, Echo Press Alexandria goaltender Ben Allen tried to find the puck around Hermantown's Chris Benson in the state tournament opener last Wednesday. Allen was peppered by two good offenses as the Hawks and Rochester Lourdes combined for 90 shots against Alexandria in two games.

A motivated Rochester Lourdes team ended the season for the Alexandria boys' hockey team last Thursday in a 7-0 game at Mariucci Arena.

The Eagles were determined to play a third game after getting upset by Hibbing-Chisholm 4-0 in the first round on Wednesday. They responded against the Cardinals with a dominant performance that sent them on to the consolation championship against Breck on Saturday.

Rochester Lourdes converted on three power plays and one shorthanded opportunity. Alex Funk and Andy Benner each had two goals, while senior Nick Heimer earned the shutout by collecting 20 saves in net.

"They were a very good team," Alexandria head coach Scott Woods said. "It was a tough break to play the two seed the first day and to have the three seed get upset and play them the second day."

Once the Eagles got going, the Cardinals couldn't find a way to slow them down. Alec Brandrup broke a scoreless tie 7:52 into the opening period. Sam Slightam added another at 15:29 before Rochester opened things up with three goals in the second period.

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The Cardinals could not counter with any offense in the third. They were held to just three shots in the final period as the Eagles outshot Alexandria 34-20 in the game. Ben Allen took the loss in net. He had 27 saves but allowed all seven goals.

The Cardinals knew they would have their hands full going into the state tournament. Alexandria came in as the only team in the field with a losing record at 12-15-1. Woods was asked about that record after his team's 5-1 loss to Hermantown in the opening round.

"We lost some very good seniors last year," Woods said. "We just had major changes. We had three or four guys going to forward and back to defense and back to forward...Ultimately I think the kids kind of looked at it as it took the whole season to kind of figure it out.

"You come in with a losing record, and it's not what you want, but I think it would be different if it was our one and only time here, and we just kind of snuck through and shouldn't have. But I thought our kids played with pride. They had 20-plus wins the last two years. It's not like they haven't played for a good team. They were a part of that."

The Cardinals earned their way back there this season. They played their best hockey in their three playoff wins, two of which came over higher seeds in Fergus Falls and Willmar. Alexandria became the first five seed in Section 6A history to advance to a state tournament.

"The experience is always special," Woods said. "Every kid dreams of getting there. You hope to win but have to remember a lot of good teams never make it there."

The trip to state capped off an up and down season for the Cardinals. They finished 12-17-1. They felt they could have won a few more if they would have found a way to win close games early on. They did that late in the season to earn its second state tournament appearance in as many years. In the end, that is what Alexandria will carry into the off-season.

"We had a season of close calls," Woods said. "Games that we were in but couldn't quite pull out. Late in the season, we found that way to finish and ended on a high note."

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GAME SUMMARY

ALEXANDRIA 0 0 0 - 0

ROCHESTER LOURDES 2 3 2 - 7

SHOTS - Alexandria - 7, 10, 3 - 20; Rochester - 6, 16, 12 - 34

SCORING SUMMARY - FIRST PERIOD - Rochester - Alec Brandrup (Jason Samuelson, Rory Vesel), 7:52; Rochester - Sam Slightam (Vesel), 15:29

SECOND PERIOD - Rochester - Alex Funk (Samuelson, Vesel), 1:55; Rochester - Funk (Samuelson), 7:27; Rochester - Andy Benner (Landon Farrell), 8:07

THIRD PERIOD - Rochester - Samuelson (Benner), 6:20; Rochester - Benner (Ryan Nicolay, Louis Hanson), 16:42

GOALTENDING - Alexandria - Ben Allen - L, 27 saves, 7 goals allowed; Rochester - Nick Heimer - W, 20 saves, 0 goals allowed

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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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