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March 20, 2019

2/22/2019 10:49:00 AM
NB wins two blowouts ahead of sectional play

North Branch 7, Dodge County 0
Joey Kerchner had two goals and three assists and goalie Jake Turek stopped all 16 shots he faced to lead the Vikings to a 7-0 win over the Dodge County Wildcats last Friday, February 15 at Dodge County Ice Arena.  The Vikings scored their seven goals on just 23 shots.  It’s was Turek’s third shutout of the season.

The Vikings scored once in the first period before blowing the game wide open with four goals in the second period and cruising to a win.  Tucker Sachs also had two goals for the Vikings, to go along with an assist.  Dawson Johnson chipped in with a goal and an assist.  Cody Croal and Kade Koecher each scored a goal.  And Justin Axberg and Ben Huth had one assist apiece.
North Branch 6, Northern Lakes 1
On the face of it, there was nothing too special about the Vikings’ 6-1 win over Northern Lakes last Saturday night, February 16.  The Vikings dominated the game and, leading 1-0 midway through the second period, started scoring and didn’t stop.  But it was Senior Night and it was the last regular season game for the team’s seniors.

And the game turned out to be very special for one Viking senior in particular.  With the Vikings leading 3-0 midway through the third period, little-used senior Brennen James jumped on the ice during a shift change, immediately stole the puck near the red line, skated into the Northern Lakes zone on a breakaway and, from the top of the left circle, ripped a shot into the upper right corner of the net.  Just five seconds into his shift, James had scored the only varsity goal of his high school career.  His teammates went nuts.  And sometimes, that’s what a sporting event can be about – one special moment for a player.

James’ goal opened the floodgates, as the Vikings scored two more goals in the next three minutes to make the score 6-0.  Northern Lakes scored with 50 seconds left in the game to spoil the shutout bid by Jake Turek, but the outcome was never in doubt.  The Vikings outshot Northern Lakes 52-25 for the game.  Cody Croal and Tucker Sachs had two goals apiece, and Croal added an assist.  One of Croal’s goals was shorthanded.  Joey Kirchner scored the other goal for the Vikings.  Jake Richards had an assist.  Four of the Viking goals were unassisted.
Hockey Hullaballoo
The win also likely helped the Vikings secure the number two seed for the section playoffs.  The Vikings will take on the seventh-seeded Mora Mustangs tonight at Chisago Lakes Arena at 5 p.m.  More info on the Section 5A tournament can be found in our section preview article in this week’s Press.

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