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February 27, 2020

1/9/2020 2:57:00 PM
Vikes kept streaking on the back of special teams and Croal's offense

North Branch 6, Superior (Wisc.) 2
With the score tied 2-2 against the Superior (Wisc.) Spartans after the halfway point of the second period, the Vikings boys’ hockey team scored three goals in a two-and-a-half-minute span to put the game out of reach and went on to beat the Spartans 6-2.  The game was played Thursday, January 2 at Chisago Lakes Arena.

The Vikings took a quick lead in this one.  On a two-on-one,  Cody Croal made a nice pass to Matt Dekanick, who put the puck into the upper right corner for a 1-0 lead just 22 seconds into the first period.  But less than two minutes later, the Spartans took advantage of a Viking defensive lapse and scored a rebound goal to tie the game at 1-1.  “That was out best first period of the season,” said Viking head coach Matt Cottingham.  “Even though we gave up a goal, we controlled the puck the majority of the period.  There were no penalties.  It was one of the fastest periods of the year with a lot of good action.”

At 9:45 of the second period, Joey Kerchner quickly converted a nice pass from Dawson Johnson into a power play goal to put the Vikings back up by one.  Superior answered with a five-on-three power play goal of their own just 41 seconds later to tie the game at 2-2.  But the Vikings bunched together three goals after that – two by Croal and one by Lawton Garin – to take a commanding 5-2 lead at the end of two.  Tucker Sachs assisted on Croal’s second goal and Zach Larson picked up the assist on the goal by Garin.  In the third period, Kerchner added his second goal of the game, assisted by Croal and Johnny Snaza, to make the final score 6-2.

Cottingham said “We controlled all three zones for most of the second period and had a really good period.  The second period has been our best period all year.  And when we weren’t in the penalty box, we were able to run three lines in order to stay fresh for the Chisago Lakes game the next night.  All three lines scored, which was nice.  Jake Turek had to make a few big saves to keep the game from getting close.  And we are moving the puck really well on the power play.”
Hockey Hullaballoo
The Vikings have killed off about 94% of penalties this season while converting on 35% of their power plays, both among the top percentages in the state.
Cody Croal is tied for ninth in the state with 35 points, on 18 goals and 17 assists.

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