2/7/2020 10:27:00 AM Chisago Lakes pounces on opportunity and upsets North Branch in huge game
Chisago Lakes 5, North Branch 3 In the second matchup between the Wildcat and Viking boys’ hockey teams this year, Wildcat Ben Johnson scored a power play goal at 8:56 of the third period to give the Wildcats a 4-3 lead over the Vikings. The Wildcats added an empty-netter with eight seconds left in the game to make the final score Chisago Lakes 5, North Branch 3. The game, a home game for the Vikings, was played at Chisago Lakes Arena this past Tuesday, February 4.
The game was odd in some ways. Despite 27 shots between the two teams in the first period, the game was scoreless at the end of one. But the floodgates opened in the second period, with six goals scored in a ten-minute span. Things tightened up again in the third period, with just one goal being scored on 23 total shots before the empty-netter. And there were only two penalties called – both on the Vikings – in the game. The referees probably could have called a couple more on each team, but they were letting them play. There was no pushing and shoving during stoppages in front of the net. None. It was probably the least chippy game ever between the Wildcats and Vikings, so there was no reason for the refs to get too involved.
The Wildcats came bursting out of the gate and peppered the net with shots before the Vikings even know what hit them. Five minutes into the game, the puck had spent 90% of the time in the Vikings end of the ice and the Wildcats led 10-0 in shots. Viking goalie Luke Opdahl stood tall, however, and not one of those early Wildcats shots got in. The Vikings finally woke up and started to give it back to the Wildcats. By the end of the period, the Vikings led 14-13 in shots. And Wildcat goalie Max WIlmer also stepped it up, stopping all 14 of those shots.
The second period may have been the most fun period of hockey witnessed at Chisago Lakes Arena this year. The Vikings got on the board first. Lawton Garin got a hold of the puck in the lower left circle and had some acreage open in front of the net. He moved the puck back and forth a couple of times, got Wilmer to vomit to the left and slid it easily inside the right post to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead at 4:23. Ben Huth and Matt Dekanick were awarded the assists. The Wildcats answered 90 seconds later. Standing behind the goal line to the left of the net, Wildcat Isaac Roy received a pass from Alex Bachmeier. He curled out in front of the left side of the net, unchallenged by any Viking players, and roofed it in the upper left-hand corner of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
45 seconds later, the Vikings re-took the lead. Jordan Axberg sent a pass from the left half wall in the Wildcat zone toward a wide-open Tucker Sachs in front of the net. Sachs tipped it past Wilmer to put the Vikings back in the lead at 2-1. 30 seconds later, the Wildcats came into the Vikings on a two-on-one. Chase Mehlhorn took a shot from the right circle and continued toward the net. Opdahl made the save and sent the rebound right back at Mehlhorn. But Mehlhorn whiffed on the shot and the score remained tied.
But not for long. Two minutes after the goal by Sachs, Wildcat Ryan Schmidt had the puck just to the right of the crease. He passed it over to an unguarded Karston Edson standing at the right side of the net and Edson roofed a one-timer into the wide-open left side of the net to tie the game at 2-2. Joey Kerchner put the Vikings back on top two minutes later. He picked up a loose puck near center ice and carried it down the middle into the Wildcat zone. He weaved his way through the Wildcat defense and, from the lower part of the left circle, lifted it into the upper left-hand corner of the net to give the Vikings their third one goal-lead of the game. And the Wildcats answered with two-and-a-half minutes left in the period. Ben Johnson sent a pass deep in the Wildcat zone in stride to Tucker Bakken just outside the left point in the Viking zone. Bakken went in all alone on Opdahl and roofed another goal to tie the game at 3-3. Wildcat goalie Wilmer made a big save with 20 seconds left in the period and the game was tied going into the second intermission.
With 8:04 left in the third period, the Vikings took their second penalty of the game. The game was delayed for about ten minutes in order to fix a hole in the ice, so both teams got a rest. Coming out from the delay, the faceoff was in the Viking zone to the right of Opdahl. David Kimlinger won the faceoff and pulled the puck back to Ben Johnson at the right point. Johnson sent the puck to Ryan Schmidt at the right half wall. Schmidt passed the puck back to Johnson. Johnson skated to the top of the right circle, slid a shot along the ice and it went just inside the right post past Opdahl to give the Wildcats a 4-3 lead with 7:57 left in the third period. The Vikings put on a lot of pressure, but Wilmer and the Wildcat defense were up to the task. After a non-call on the Wildcats behind their own met with about 20 seconds left in the third period, Wildcats Alex Bachmeier and Ben Johnson combined to get the puck to Chase Mehlhorn in the middle of the neutral zone. Mehlhorn got behind the Viking defenders skated to the Viking Blue line and slid the puck down the ice and into the empty net with 8 seconds left in the game to make the final score 5-3.