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October 18, 2018

12/22/2017 2:13:00 PM
Monticello hands North Branch first loss of the season

North Branch 5, Sauk Rapids-Rice 2
Trailing Sauk Rapids Rice 2-1 entering the third period, the Viking boys’ hockey team exploded for four goals, including two power play goals by Jacob Richards, to beat the Storm 5-2 Tuesday, December 12 at Sports Arena East in Sauk Rapids.  Richards also had two assists in the game.  Brady Meyer had two goals and two assists and Cody Moline scored one and added two assists.

The Vikings dominated the game from start to finish.  They outshot the Storm 12-2 in the first period, but the game remained scoreless after one.  Just under five minutes into the second period, Brady Meyer picked up his own rebound and scored to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead. The Storm answered with a goal of their own just one minute later and scored again with 28 seconds left in the period to go up 2-1.

The Vikings tied it up just 46 seconds into the third period.  Meyer carried the puck into the Sauk Rapids zone and passed it behind the net to Richards.  Richards passed the puck to Moline at the left half wall.  Moline skated to the center and snapped a quick, hard shot over the goalie’s leg pad to tie the game at 2-2.  On a power play around the five-minute mark, Tim Moll passed the puck from the left half wall to Meyer in the middle of the slot.  Meyer shot and Richards swooped in to slam home the rebound and give the Vikings a 3-2 lead.  The Vikings gave themselves a little breathing room with five minutes left in the period when Richards scored another rebound power play goal off Meyer’s shot.  And Richards nearly ended up with a hat trick.  With the Storm net empty, Richards carried the puck over the red line and shot.  Meyer lifted a defenseman’s stick so he couldn’t block the shot.  The puck hit the left post, then the right post and came to rest on the goal line.  Meyer beat the defenseman to the puck and tapped it in with 1:10 left in the game, making the final score 5-2.

The Vikings outshot the Storm 42-30 for the game and goalie Trevor Mellen stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced.  The Vikings were 2-for-6 on the power play and didn’t give the Storm any power play opportunities.

Monticello 4, North Branch 2
The Vikings went toe-to-toe with last year’s state runner up, eventually losing the game 4-2.  But the Vikings proved they belonged on the same ice with the Magic.  The game was played at Moose Sherritt Arena in Monticello.

The first period was a feeling out process for both teams, but the second period was a free-for-all.  Skating shorthanded, Cody Moline tipped the puck around a defenseman to create a two-on-one with Brady Meyer.  Moline passed the puck across to Meyer, who put it away to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the period.  The Magic tied it just a minute later with a goal on the same power play.  And they scored again a minute later to go up 2-1.  With five minutes left in the period and the Vikings in the middle of a line change, Richards skated into the Magic zone with the puck and left a drop pass for Meyer in the high slot.  As the goalie dropped into the butterfly, Meyer ripped a shot over his pad on the blocker side into the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2.  With two minutes left in the period, the Magic’s Troy Dahlheimer flipped the puck toward a scrum in front of the Viking net.  The puck bounced off Moline’s shin pad and went into the net to give Monticello a 3-2 lead.  Monticello scored another garbage goal four minutes into the third period and hung on for the win.

The Vikings went zero for sox in power play opportunities, while the Magic scored on their sole power play chance.  Monticello outshot the Vikings 36-21 for the game.  Viking goalie Trevor Mellen stopped 32 of th3 36 shots he faced.

Viking head coach Matt Cottingham said “Most people don’t realize that the home team gets a big advantage with the last change, which allows them to get the matchups they want.  Monticello certainly took advantage of last change in this game.  Brady missed on a breakaway early and another shot that appeared headed for pay dirt hit the nub of a stick and went wide.  We needed a break to go our way on the road, especially against such a good opponent.  We expect another very good game when they come to our home arena on January 11.

North Branch 5, North Shore 1
In the home rematch against North Shore, the Vikings came out fast and scored four goals in the first period.  But having played a tough game against Monticello the previous night, using mostly two lines, fatigue set in.  The Vikings played in more of a defensive mode for the last two periods – still outshooting the Storm – and came away with a 5-1 win.

Cody Moline wristed a shot from the top of the left circle into the upper left corner of the net to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead at 4:26 of the first period.  Jacob Richards and Justin Sachs picked up the assists.  90 seconds later, Richards tapped the puck from his own zone ahead to Cody Croal, who went into the North Shore zone two-on-one with Moline.  Croal passed it across to Moline, who buried it to put the Vikings up 2-0.

With about three minutes left in the period, the Viking defense coughed up the puck twice within a 20 second period leading to breakaways for the Storm.  But goalie Jake Turek, making his first start of the season, came up with two nice saves to keep North Shore off the scoreboard.  With 1:40 left in the period, Sachs took a shot from the lower left circle, the goalie made the save and Brady Meyer skated in and slammed the rebound into the upper left corner to make the score 3-0.  And with five seconds left in the period, after some defensive sloppiness by the Storm, Richards shot from point blank range just under the crossbar to put the Vikings up 4-0, with assists going to Meyer and Moline.  Late in the third period, Meyer spun and fired a shot from the middle of the right circle into the upper right corner to make the final score 5-1.

Viking head coach Matt Cottingham said “We came out flying, did what we had to do and coasted a bit from there.  It was nice to be able to play three lines the whole game.  We gave Trevor the night off in the net and Jake Turek came in for the first time this year and nearly pitched a shutout.”  The Vikings outshot North Shore 36-26 for the game and Turek stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced.

Hockey Hullaballoo
Cody Moline is tied for seventh in the state (both classes) with 12 goals and eighth in total points, with 20.

The Vikings play at STMA Arena tonight at 7 p.m.  And starting next Wednesday, they will play in a holiday tournament at Exchange Arena in Little Falls, facing Willmar, Fargo Sheyenne and Little Falls over three days.

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