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home : sports : sports March 24, 2017

2/9/2017 2:26:00 PM
North Branch stays rolling at six in a row, including win over Princeton

North Branch 9, Becker-Big Lake 0
Sophomore Brady Meyer recorded his fourth hat trick of the season and playmaker Nick Fairbanks had four assists as the Vikings sent the Becker-Big Lake Eagles crashing to earth in a 9-0 shutout win Tuesday, January 31 at Princeton Ice Arena.  The Vikings scored six goals in the second period to blow the game wide open, and outshot the Eagles 40-13 for the game.  Viking goalie Trevor Mellen stopped all 13 shots he faced to record his second shutout of the season.

Nick Jensen and Cody Moline each had two goals for the Vikings.  Ryan Byrkit and Jacob Richards each had a goal and two assists.  Recording single assists were Conner Lee, Bryant Meyer, Moline, Joe Fabini, Brady Meyer and Trevor Minor.

North Branch 7, Princeton 2
The Vikings’ 7-2 win over the Princeton Tigers, which featured two goals and four assists by Cody Moline, showed just how far the Vikings have come in the past three years and just how well they are playing at this point in the season.  While Princeton is having a down year record-wise, they play a tough schedule and deserve their number four ranking in Section 5A.  Two years ago, they beat the Vikings 9-0.  Last year, the Vikings lost 4-1 and 7-0 to the Tigers.  And early this season, Princeton beat the Vikings 4-2.

This win is the signature win so far for the Viking hockey program.  And the 7-2 win last Saturday at Chisago Lakes Arena shows that the Vikings are on the rise and are legitimate contenders for the section title and a trip to the state tournament this season, for the first time in program history.

Princeton scored just over six minutes into the first period to take a 1-0 lead.  With 28 seconds left in the period, Moline picked up a loose puck and scored to tie the game at 1-1 and give the Vikings a lift heading into the second period.  The Vikings were on the power play early in the second period.  Ryan Byrkit and Moline slid the puck back and forth at the left point a few times.  Finally, Byrkit pushed the puck to Moline and he ripped a rising slapper toward the left side of the net.  Joe Fabini, standing in near the bottom of the left circle, tipped the puck into the upper left corner to put the Vikings up 2-1.   Conner Lee scored at 12:17 of the period, assisted by Moline, as the Vikings started to pull away.  And just over a minute later, Viking leading scorer Brady Meyer chased a loose puck down the left side into the Tiger zone and snapped a shot into the upper right corner from the lower left circle to give the Vikings a 4-1 lead going into the third period.

Princeton made things a bit interesting when they scored a power play goal at the 3:50 mark of the third period to cut the Viking lead to 4-2.  But the Vikings started to put things out of reach with a goal at the 7:33 mark, when – who else – Moline passed a puck from between the circles in the Tiger zone out to the right point and Matt Kratzke fired a slapper into the upper right corner to put the Vikings up 5-2.  You could see the Tigers’ shoulders slump at that point as the Vikings were in complete control of the game.  Moline scored his second goal of the game five minutes later to stretch the Viking lead to four.  Byrkit got the single assist.  And Meyer scored an unassisted goal with two seconds left in the game to top off the big 7-2 win for the Vikings.

North Branch 7, Mora-Milaca 1
Brady Meyer scored four times, Cory Moline had four assists and Ryan Byrkit had three assists as the Vikings maliciously mauled and manhandled the Mora-Milaca Mustangs 7-1 Monday,  February 6 at Chisago Lakes Arena.  A four goal second period for the Vikings turned this from a close game into a rout.  Scoring the other three goals for the Vikings were Nick Fairbanks, Jacob Richards and Joe Fabini.  Fairbanks had two assists and tallying one assist each were Conner Lee, Fabini and Meyer.

Hockey Hullaballoo
The Vikings currently have a six game winning streak, the longest in school history.

Brady Meyer is second in goals scored in Section 5A, trailing only Brendan Westbrook of Pine City, who had 32.  The Vikings have four players in the top ten in section scoring for the first time in school history:  Brady Meyer (5th place, 46 points), Cody Moline (7th place, 40 points), and Nick Fairbanks and Ryan Byrkit (tied for 10th place, 31 points).  And Trevor Mellen is third among goaltenders in the section with a save percentage of 91.2%.

The Vikings welcome the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejackets to Chisago Lakes Arena this Saturday at 7 p.m.  The Vikings beat the Bluejackets 5-1 on the road less than two weeks ago.  On Tuesday, February 14, a Valentine’s Day gift of Moose Lake (3-19) will be delivered to Chisago Lakes Arena at 7 p.m.  And the Vikings will finish out the regular season against their archrivls, the Chisago Lakes Wildcats, next Thursday, February 16 at 7 p.m.  We will preview that game in next week’s Press.  If you want to get a seat for that one, get there early – it’s expected to be standing room only.





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