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Hockey: Top-seeded Alexandria overwhelms Breckenridge in 19-0 opener as attention turns to Saturday's semis

The Cardinals scored 12 first-period goals on Wednesday as they now face the winner of Morris Area and Wadena-Deer Creek at the MAC in St. Cloud on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Tyler Kludt
Alexandria junior forward Tyler Kludt stick handles his way to a breakaway goal against Breckenridge-Wahpeton on Feb. 23, 2022 in the Section 6A tournament opener. It was the second goal of the first period for Kludt as he helped the Cardinals to a 12-0 lead after the first 17 minutes as they cruised into the section semifinals with a 4 p.m. game at the MAC in St. Cloud coming up on Saturday. Kludt, Brycen Berg and Gavin Olson all finished with hat tricks on Wednesday.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — The Alexandria boys hockey team had to wait 24 hours to host the Section 6A quarterfinals after a weather postponement on Tuesday. Once they were on the ice, the Cardinals did exactly what the No. 1 seed should do in their position by breezing past the eighth seed on Wednesday.

Breckenridge-Wahpeton came into the playoffs winless at 0-20 and allowing 8.6 goals per game. The Cardinals (17-6-2) dominated the Blades in a 19-0 final where they outshot them 57-1. It’s the third time this season that a team has scored 15 goals or more on the Blades.

“The first period kind of resembled the score. I needed to see how we could play our normal game,” Alexandria head coach Josh Meyers said. “Then after that, you try to challenge them in different ways. They had to dump the puck on their rushes and work on our forecheck. We had to run some sort of offensive zone faceoff play when they had the chance. We wanted to utilize our defensemen more in the offensive zone. We just tried to work on different things when we could, versus just trying to score goals.”

Nicholas Peterson
From left to right, Mason Stennes, Jack Breitzman and Nicholas Peterson celebrate Peterson's first-period goal in the Cardinals' Section 6A playoff-opening win over Breckenridge-Wahpeton on Feb. 23, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

It took just 16 seconds for Alexandria to get the opening goal when senior forward Brycen Berg found the back of the net. That was part of a hat trick for Berg in the first period.

It was 4-0 less than three minutes in when Nicholas Peterson and Berg scored 11 seconds apart. Joe Lamski, Tyler Kludt (2), Gavin Olson, Mason Stennes, Leo Kompelien, Pieter Mulder and Tripp Shatek all added goals in the opening frame when Alexandria still had its foot on the gas. It was 12-0 after the first 17 minutes.

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Meyers wanted to see how his guys performed at their normal speed in that first period, and they responded exactly the way he was hoping.

“That’s why I started that top line, I started our top defensive pairing, our top goaltender,” Meyers said. “That’s what we’re doing on Saturday. That’s what we need throughout the playoffs, so I didn’t want to start any differently just because of this game.”

The Cardinals got four more goals in the second period and three in the third. Kludt and Olson both joined Berg with a hat trick in the game, while Kompelien, Stennes, Joe Lamski, and Keegan Lucy got goals over the final two frames as well.

Teagan Pfeffer easily turned aside the one shot that reached him as he got the win in goal.

Brennan Lattimer
Alexandria senior captain Brennan Lattimer sends a shot on net in the Section 6A playoff opener against Breckenridge-Wahpeton on Feb. 23, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

The Cardinals will turn their attention to the section semifinals now in St. Cloud on Saturday. They play the 4 p.m. game at the MAC against the winner of Wadena-Deer Creek (14-11) and Morris-Benson Area (13-11-1). The second game of the semifinals will be played at 7 p.m.

Morris-Benson Area and Wadena-Deer Creek play their quarterfinal game on Thursday. Alexandria played neither of these programs during the regular season.

Wadena-Deer Creek is the fourth seed in the section, averaging 3.8 goals and allowing 4.1 per game. Morris-Benson Area is seeded fifth. The Storm average 4.2 goals and allow 3.8 a night.

Zaven Noetzleman
Alexandria junior defenseman Zaven Noetzelman looks for an opening in the Section 6A tournament opener against Breckenridge-Wahpeton on Feb. 23, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

“I think both teams are going to have some good players. I just don’t know how many good players they have,” Meyers said. “We’ve talked about our depth on this team so much. That’s where I think if they’re going to try to play two lines, or maybe a line and a half and double shift certain guys, they’re not going to be able to do it against us for three periods.”

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Alexandria has now gone 9-0-1 over its last 10 games. The Cardinals have not lost since a 6-5 game against Class AA’s Sartell-St. Stephen on Jan. 21.

Alexandria is playing its best hockey at the right time of year as this team now sits one win away from playing for a section championship on March 3 back at the MAC.

“Our focus every game is not who we’re playing. It’s always been us,” Meyers said. “We control our destiny. We control how we play. When we play our best hockey, I think we’re one of the best teams in the state. That’s what I keep reminding them is it’s not who we’re playing, it’s what we’re doing in the game.”

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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