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Hockey: Blizzard steal win in overtime

Alexandria's Joe Dokken rips a shot on net in the 3-2 overtime win over North Iowa Friday night (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)1 / 3
Brandon Connett looks to play the puck out of the corner for the Alexandria Blizzard during Friday night's 3-2 overtime win. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)2 / 3
Tucker Kruse stares down the North Iowa net minder in the third period Friday night during the Alexandria Blizzard 3-2 overtime win (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)3 / 3

The Alexandria Blizzard took down the North Iowa Bulls (23-7-1-0) in miraculous fashion Friday night. The Blizzard won 3-2 in overtime off the stick of defenseman Val Popowski.

While overtime wins are impressive alone, this one has a come-from-behind narrative to it. Trailing late in the third period, defenseman Joe Dokken scored a power play goal with 2:46 remaining in the game.

The Blizzard went into the 3-on-3 overtime session with the momentum. Within the first minute of the extra frame, Dylan Giorgio made a cross-ice pass to a streaking Val Popowski. Popowski accidentally dropped to one knee, but still found a way to put the puck above the goalie’s right arm on a breakaway.

“I just thought to myself ‘oh no’ when I dropped down,” Popowski said. “It feels good though. These are big games and big points we need in these standings.”

North Iowa came into Friday night’s game sitting at second place in the division. The Bulls had better chances and were able to frustrate the Blizzard with their defense.

The Blizzard were without their head and assistant coaches tonight. Jeff and Jon Crouse were out of town at a wedding. Steve Yurichuk, who helps out with the development of some of the players in the offseason, stepped in and got his first win as a head coach at the NA3HL level.

What will not be forgotten about this game is the night that goaltender Ville Hyttinen had. He stopped 35 out of 37 shots and made some huge saves in the second half of the game to keep the Blizzard deficit within one goal.

“I spoke to him before the game and let him get into his zone," Yurichuk said. “He was great tonight. He made some really big stops at some key times that kept us in the game.”

The Blizzard are in the thick of a playoff race with New Ulm (16-14-0-1). The Blizzard win puts its record at 17-14-0-1 on the season as Alexandria jumps the Steel in the playoff standings after the overtime win. Alexandria and New Ulm will be battling for that playoff spot through the end of the season.

“We just have to keep playing our game and stay confident,” Popowski said. “We need to take care of business at home and we are doing that right now.”

The Blizzard are back in action on Saturday night for the second game of the weekend series.

NORTH IOWA   0 2 0 0 - 2

ALEXANDRIA    1 0 1 1 - 3

SCORING- FIRST PERIOD- Alexandria- BRandon Connett (Carter Rieland, Zach Curry) 9:02;

SECOND PERIOD- North Iowa- Peter Verstegen (Matt Dahlseide, Harrison Stewart) 6:02; North Iowa- Cam Fagerlee (Marco Escobar, Nick Johnson) 7:51;

THIRD PERIOD- Alexandria- Joe Dokken (Riley Scanlon) power play, 17:14;

OVERTIME- Alexandria- Val Popowski (Dylan Giorgio, Brett Meister)

PENALTIES- North Iowa- 10 minutes on 5 infractions; Alexandria- 12 minutes on 6 infractions;

GOALTENDING- North Iowa- Dysen Skinner, L, 33 saves, 3 goals allowed; Alexandria- Ville Hyttinen, W, 35 saves, 2 goals allowed

Jared Rubado

Jared is a graduate of Augustana University with a degree in journalism and sport management. Jared is a long-time Minnesota sports fan who, for some reason, still has never seen any of his favorite teams win a championship. He is also a movie fanatic. His favorite kind of movies are comic book films and musicals. Jared is from Brainerd, Minnesota and played sports growing up. He was a goalie for his high school hockey team. Jared is excited to contribute to the community of Douglas County and is looking forward to meeting many of you. 

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