January 10, 2019 at 3:06 p.m.

Vikings take first round from Chisago Lakes

Vikings take first round from Chisago Lakes
Vikings take first round from Chisago Lakes

North Branch 5, Chisago Lakes 3
Justin Sachs scored on a power play with just over two minutes to go in the game to break a 3-3 tie with the Wildcats and give the Vikings a 4-3 lead.    Joey Kirchner scored and empty-netter with just under a minute to go in the third period to seal the 5-3 victory and complete his first career hat trick.  The game was played Saturday, January 5 at Chisago Lakes Arena.

Despite being outplayed by the Wildcats in the first period, the Vikings used some nice puck movement to score the only goal of the period, Kirchner’s first goal of the game.  Cody Croal and Jake Richards had the assists.  In the second period, Nathan Caudill scored two unassisted goals for the Wildcats to put the Wildcats up 2-1.  It looked like that would be the score after two periods, but great pass from Kirchner led to a mini-breakaway for Richards.  He backhanded the puck into the top right-hand corner of the net to tie the game at 2-2 with just 12 seconds left in the period.

Thomas Overgaard returned to the scoring column for the Wildcats at 3:43 of the third period, assisted by Jackson Waltman, to give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.  

But at the 9:34 mark of the period, on an odd-man rush, Kirchner ripped a snapshot into the back of the net to tie the game at 3-3.  Croal got the assist.  The Wildcats took an elbowing penalty at 13:38 of the period.  At 14:54, Croal fed Sachs at the top of the circle.  Sachs one-timed it through traffic and Wildcat goalie Max Wilmer never saw it as the puck hit the back of the net for the game-winning goal.

There were only two penalties in the entire game, one on each team.  “I think it was part of their game plan,” said Viking head coach Matt Cottingham.  “Staying out of the box gave them a better chance to win.  They definitely had a good game plan.”  

The Wildcats outshot the Vikings 35-26 for the game.  Viking goalie Jake Turek stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced.  Cottingham said “It’s nice to have Jake in the net.  He keeps us in games until we can find our legs and get something to happen, like we did in the third period of this game.

The Vikings, with a 3-2 conference record, are all alone in second place in the Mississippi 8 Conference, trailing only St. Michael-Albertville.  The Wildcats are in eighth place with a 1-4 conference record.

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