1/3/2019 2:23:00 PM Fourth straight win gives NB a 9-2-1 record
North Branch 1, Willmar 0 Justin Sachs scored the only goal of the game at 4:20 of the second period and the Vikings held the Willmar Cardinals to just eight shots on goal for the entire game. It all added up to a 1-0 win for the Vikings in the opening game of the Little Falls Holiday Tournament on Friday, December 28. The tournament was held at Exchange Arena in Little Falls.
“It was one of those games where it was tough to score,” said Viking head coach Matt Cottingham. “Their goalie played out of his mind. We controlled the game from start to finish. They never even came close to scoring. The nice thing is we didn’t change the way we play and that’s kind of been our thing.”
On the scoring play, Sachs was carrying the puck down the left-hand side as part of a two-on-one. He tried to pass it across, but it hit the Willmar defenseman’s stick and bounced right back to Sachs. He put on the brakes and rifled a shot right past the ear of the goalie and into the back of the net
North Branch 3, Little Falls 2 Joey Kirchner scored a power play goal at 7:26 of overtime to lift the Vikings to a 3-2 win over the Little Falls Flyers in the second game of the Little Falls Holiday Tournament. The Flyers outshot the Vikings 31-28 for the game and Viking goalie Jake Turek stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced.
Little Falls outshot the Vikings 11-4 in the first period and scored on a wide-open rebound just 2:28 into the period. But the Vikings made the most of their few shots. At 8:11, Cody Croal came down the right side in the zone, found a small opening and scored the tying goal. Roger Thomas picked up the assist.
Little Falls scored the only goal of the second period to go up 2-1. But with just under five minutes to go in the game, from the top of the circle in the defensive zone, Andrew Osland put a pass right on the stick of Jake Richards in stride at center ice. The perfect pass sent Richards on a breakaway and Richards put it home to tie the game at 2-2 and send it into overtime.
The Vikings dominated overtime. Little Falls had trouble getting the puck out of their own zone. They ended up taking a hooking penalty on an odd-man rush at 5:57. Kirchner scored on a rebound with 19 seconds left in the power play and the Vikings finished up a successful road trip. Tucker Sachs and Croal assisted on the winning goal.
Viking head coach Matt Cottingham broke down the Vikings’ play. He said “They dominated the first period, but we were able to come out of it tied at 1-1. We controlled most of the play in the second period, even though we didn’t have a lot of shots on net. They snuck one in to go up by a goal. And we dominated the third period. I am impressed with the mental toughness from our young team. And they are picking things up faster than we thought they would. It will be a fun second half of the season. One of the things we have in our favor is our goalie, Jake Turek. As I’ve said before, he is the best goalie in the section. We don’t have to score many goals with him in the net. We just need to play good defense in front of him and that’s what we have been doing lately.” Hockey Hullaballoo The Vikings are 3-0-1 in overtime games this season.
This Saturday, the Vikings will take on the Chisago Lakes Wildcats at Chisago Lakes Arena at 7 p.m. for the first of two regular season meetings this season. The Vikings are the home team. It wasn’t too many years ago that the rivalry was very one-sided in favor of the Wildcats, but the improvement in the Vikings’ program in the last few years has made it a truly competitive rivalry. And on Tuesday, January 8, the Vikings will host the Legacy Christian Lions at Chisago Lakes Arena at 7 p.m.