1/9/2017 3:04:00 PM Chisago Lakes fends of surging North Branch
Cooper Hoheisel’s goal with 16 seconds left in the second period gave the Chisago Lakes Wildcats a 3-1 lead and proved to be the game winner as the Wildcats hung on to beat the North Branch Vikings 3-2 before a packed house split evenly between Wildcat fans and Viking fans Thursday, December 5 at Chisago Lakes Arena.
Both teams came out a bit flat in the first period. Darin Krueger provided some excitement for Wildcat fans when he picked up a loose puck in the Viking zone and scored at the 9:35 mark to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. In the second period, both teams started to hit a little more, ramping up the intensity of the game. The game’s first penalty was called on the Vikings 90 seconds into the second period. At the 3:07 mark, Nick Pautz sent a pass from the lower right circle to Jace Meierhoff at the left point. Meierhoff snapped a shot inside the left post to put the Wildcats up 2-0. Cooper Hoheisel also picked up an assist on the play.
The Vikings closed the gap at the midway point of the period. A North Branch player on a clean breakaway was hauled down from behind a few feet in front of the Wildcat net and the Vikings were awarded a penalty shot. Brady Meyer converted with a shot through the five hole of Wildcat goalie Brooks Stangl to cut the Wildcats lead to 2-1. The key play of the game came as it looked like the teams would go into the intermission with the Wildcats still leading 2-1. Pautz stole a puck near center ice and carried it into the Viking zone down the left side on a 2-on-1 with Hoheisel. The Viking defender didn’t commit to either player as he backed toward the net. When it looked like Pautz was ready to shoot, Viking goalie Trevor Mellen slid to the left side. Pautz slid a pass across to Hoheisel, who one-timed it into the empty right side of the net to put the Wildcats up 3-1 with 16 seconds remaining in the second.
The Vikings came out flying in the third period and were able to get the puck deep into the Wildcat zone from the opening faceoff. Just 22 seconds into the period, Ryan Byrkit picked up a loose puck at the left point and blasted a slapshot that snuck inside the right post for a goal to cut the Wildcat lead to 3-2. Both team had good scoring chances throughout the period, but were thwarted by nice defensive plays and nice saves. The Vikings ramped up the intensity with about 3:30 remaining, holding the puck in the Wildcat zone for over 90 seconds. In a period of about 30 seconds, they cycled the puck out to the blue line and took shots four or five times.
North Branch called their timeout with 1:56 remaining and pulled the goalie. They kept up the pressure for the last two minutes. But Stangl and the Wildcat defense stood firm as the Wildcats hung on for the win.
The Wildcats outshot the Vikings 36-26 for the game and both goalies played well. There were just four penalties in the game, all within an eight minute stretch in the second period. The referees did a good job of letting the teams play in the third period, letting some borderline calls go. The fans certainly got their money’s worth in this one.