Little Falls erases 5-goal deficit to beat Alexandria on a short-hander in overtime
The Flyers are 6-0 behind an offense that averages 6 goals per game. They needed all of that in a dramatic comeback on their home ice that saw Little Falls win 7-6 in overtime.
The Alexandria boys hockey team could not have started its road contest in Little Falls any better on Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, it ended with a flurry from the Flyers.
The Flyers, a former Section 6A rival with Alexandria now playing out of Section 5A, stormed back from a 5-0 deficit early in the second period to beat the Cardinals (1-2) 7-6 in overtime. The game-winner came on a shorthanded goal by Collin Kray off an assist from Matt Filippi.
Little Falls is ranked sixth in the Class A polls, and Alexandria head coach Josh Meyers said he felt his guys played some of their best hockey of the early season on Tuesday. They just needed to sustain that the whole game.
"The positives to last night's game is that we prove to ourselves the type of team we can be," Meyers said. "Being up 5-0 and 6-1 against the No. 6-ranked team in the state is a feat that can’t go unnoticed."
Alexandria jumped all over Little Falls with the help of the power play in the first period. The Cardinals’ first three goals came with the man advantage as Mason Loch, Brycen Berg and Tyler Kludt all scored, while Nicholas Peterson (2), Leonard Kompelien, Josiah Gronholz and Joe Lamski all added assists.
The flurry continued for the Cardinals as Brennan Lattimer and Berg both scored off Gronholz assists to make it 5-0 early in the second period. Isaiah Jendro got Little Falls on the board almost six minutes later, but Peterson answered for the Cardinals with a fourth power-play goal to make it a 6-1 game off of Kludt and Loch assists.
"I don’t think it was an instant flip," Meyers said of how the game turned. "It was more of a gradual momentum shift. When we were up 5-0 or 6-1, we had a lot of opportunities to score but didn’t bare down on our chances. Maybe it was because we felt we were up by so many that it wasn’t as important."
The Flyers got some life at the end of that second period with goals from Carter Oothoudt and Filippi to make it 6-3. That carried over into the third where Filippi scored at 5:51 before George Moore forced overtime with two straight goals in the final two minutes of regulation.
"The game changed when we stopped playing our way," Meyers said. "It wasn’t anything they did, it was 100% in our control. They are a good team that isn’t going to stop playing because they are losing. We put their backs against the wall and unfortunately we weren’t able to maintain our high level of play the entire game."
DJ Kicker got the win in net for the Flyers with 32 saves on 38 shots faced. Teagan Pfeffer had 20 saves while facing 27 shots in the loss.
Little Falls improved to 6-0 with the win. The Flyers have been explosive offensively all season, averaging 6 goals a night. That easily leads the Section 5A field, with Becker-Big Lake the second best offense so far at 3.8 goals per game.
Alexandria will try to bounce back with a Saturday home game at the Runestone Community Center against a Minneapolis Southwest program that is 4-1 playing out of Section 2A. Game time is set for 1 p.m.
Meyers said the loss to the Flyers stings, and that it should. But he said they will take the loss head on with a few days to prepare for Minneapolis Southwest.
"We are going to have a tough practice (Wednesday), but it isn’t a punishment," Meyers said. "We felt our game shifted as we started to get tired throughout the second half. When you get tired, you experience physical and mental fatigue and start making poor decisions. So the biggest thing I want to see from our guys (Wednesday) and moving forward is their drive to keep getting better and push each other so we can maintain our high level of play the entire game."