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Boys hockey: Alexandria shuts down Fergus Falls 3-0 in crucial Section 6A game

The Alexandria Cardinals earned its second shutout of the season with a 3-0 win over Fergus Falls Tuesday.

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The Alexandria Cardinals swarm Nicholas Peterson after his first period goal against Fergus Falls. Alexandria defeated Fergus Falls 3-0 on Feb. 15, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

FERGUS FALLS - For the second night in a row, the Alexandria boys hockey team’s defense showed out and shut out its opponent. This time, the Fergus Falls Otters failed to score against the Cardinals in a 3-0 Alexandria win Tuesday that likely wrapped up the section’s top seed.

Tuesday’s win comes off the heels of a 4-0 win over River Lakes just 24 hours prior.

“It starts with team defense,” Alexandria head coach Josh Meyers said. “(Goalies) Teagen (Pfeffer) and Gabe (Evink), I’m not taking anything away from those guys, they have been playing outstanding. But it’s also our defensemen and our forwards eliminating the type of shots that can see in (to the goal) and not giving backdoor tap-ins or whatever the case may be.”

These two shutouts are the Cardinals' only shutouts of the season.

“We’ve played really well defensively the past two nights,” Pfeffer said. “Obviously, there’s some room to improve, but our forwards have done a great job of backchecking, limited River Lakes’ and Fergus’ high-quality shots. Both me and Gabe when we see the puck we pride ourselves on being able to stop it.”

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Alexandria's Teagan Pfeffer makes a save in a game against Fergus Falls. Pfeffer had 19 saves in a 3-0 shutout victory for the Cardinals.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Pfeffer earned the win in net for the Cardinals (16-6-1, 4-0 Section 6A) with 19 saves. Tuesday’s win came against a Fergus Falls team (15-9) that is second behind the Cardinals in the Section 6A QRF standings on MinnesotaScores.net.

Alexandria also beat the Otters 5-2 in a game on Jan. 6.

With the win, the Cardinals have completed the regular season portion of section play and have essentially locked up the top spot in the section playoffs.

The Cardinals are going into each game with the mindset of the game feeling like a playoff game. That’s especially true when the game is against Fergus Falls.

“Every time we’ve played them, we’ve taken it as if it’s the section final game,” Meyers said. “That’s how we motivated these guys. It’s a section final game, it’s a playoff game. We knew that we had to go in there, play hard, be physical and take them off their game.”

Alexandria, which is ranked eighth in Class A in the QRF, is on a roll at a pivotal point in the season with eight wins in a row now. Three of those wins have come against Section 6A opponents and have boosted the Cardinals standing ahead of the playoffs.

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Alexandria's Gavin Olson fights for possession of the puck in the offensive zone against Fergus Falls. Alexandria defeated Fergus Falls 3-0 on Feb. 15, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

“It’s like a brand new season,” Pfeffer said of the upcoming section tournament that starts on Feb. 22. “After Thursday, everyone is 0-0. It's a great win, but at the end of the day, it’s the playoffs. We’ve got to be ready to play no matter who comes our way.”

Senior forward Brycen Berg led the offensive charge for the Cardinals with two goals against the Otters. His first came on an assist from senior forward Josiah Gronholz (11:00).

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Berg’s second came 39 seconds later on an assist from Gronholz and junior forward Tyler Kludt.

Those two goals, along with junior forward Nicholas Peterson’s in the first period (assist to sophomore forward Leo Kompelien) gave the Cardinals the three goals they needed. Gronholz has now scored a point in the last eight games.

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Alexandria's Josiah Gronholz skates with the puck in a game against Fergus Falls. Alexandria defeated Fergus Falls 3-0 on Feb. 15, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

“That line in general has been good. If one game it’s not Tyler, it’s Josiah. If the next game it’s not Josiah then it’s Berg, so those guys have done a really good job of moving the puck,” Meyers said. “They're playing unselfish hockey and that's what I like to see. They're all contributing differently each and every day.”

The Cardinals have had very little time to rest between games as they have played three games in four days.

“You could tell that we were a little slow and a little sluggish,” Meyers said. “We had to really bear down on our scoring chances to beat them. We kind of just grinded it out towards the end, so it was just a good hard-nosed effort by everybody.”

Meyers said it was kind of hard for his team to create energy in the first period.

“It was tough early on. We had to weather Fergus Falls’ push at least in the first half of the first period and then we kind of got our feet moving a little bit in the second period,” he said. “Obviously, scoring the first goal was huge. It kind of got us going a little bit and we popped in the second and third (goals).”

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Alexandria's Brennan Lattimer fights for possession of the puck in a game on Feb. 15, 2022, against Fergus Falls. Alexandria won 3-0.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Alexandria hosts a Brainerd team (5-18-1, 4-4-1 Central Lakes Conference) that took it to overtime in their first meeting this season. Alexandria beat Brainerd 3-2 on Jan. 11. Puck drops at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday at the Runestone Community Center.

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“Come Thursday, our last regular season game, we just got to play together, play as one and put it all out on the ice,” Pfeffer said. “We have one more game to close out a solid regular season, but no job is done yet. We have bigger goals, bigger things we want to accomplish by the end of the year.”

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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