Lakers battle undefeated Grand Forks Central
The Detroit Lakes hockey team put a scare into undefeated Grand Forks Central trailing 3-2 after two periods of play, but the Knights responded with a pair of shorthanded goals in the third period to escape Kent Freeman Arena with a 5-2 victory to improve to 19-0.
“We competed hard and that’s what we talked about, high character today and compete hard and win battles and I think we did,” Laker head coach Todd Dwyer said. “Grand Forks is a good team; there’s a reason they’re 18-0.”
Hunter Moreland got Central on the board six minutes into the first period, but was quickly answered when Trey Seebold worked the puck from below the goal line to Ryan Paskey all alone in front. Paskey’s wrist shot beat Nicholas Bucklin to tie the game less than a minute after Moreland’s goal.
Paskey won a faceoff to Bailey Tulius who went top shelf to give the Lakers a 2-1 lead at 10:01 but Central responded 90 seconds later when Cole Hanson tied the game.
Zachary Murphy had the lone goal of the second period three minutes in on an assist by Brock Reller. Bucklin and Laker goalie Ben Boomgarden battled to keep the score 3-2 to the second intermission.
“Boomer played well,” Dwyer said. “I think this is a game to know where we’re at now. It’s good to play a game at this high compete level.”
The speed of play was the fastest seen on Laker home ice this season and both teams were setting up big hits in a testy third period.
Gunnar Gibbs was called for boarding giving the Lakers a chance to tie the game on the man advantage two minutes into the final period.
Central made the going tough to set up in the zone and Judd Caufield eluded a pair of Lakers ragging the puck before turning on the jets and scoring a shorthanded wraparound at 3:36 for a 4-2 lead.
Boe Bjorge followed suit with an unassisted shorty of his own 26 seconds later for the final tally of the game.
Shots were 31-18 Knights. Central held the Lakers to only four shots in the third period, but DL takes a new speed of play and toughness into the stretch run where a conference title is still in view along with a spot near the top of the section.
“We’ve been playing better every game,” said Dwyer. “Our third and fourth line are playing better and it’s pushing our first and second lines and making them make sure they earn their shifts and that’s what we have to have going into the stretch here.”
Central held a big advantage in quality scoring chances 29-7 and faceoffs were nearly even 23-22 Knights. The Knights had 18 minutes of penalties on nine whistles, but DL was unable to capitalize, while Forks cashed in on one of three power plays and added the two shorthanded tallies.
The loss snaps a five-game Laker winning streak and was only the second defeat in the last 11 games.
“It’s not how you start it’s how you finish,” said Dwyer. “Sometimes at the beginning of the year you have to work through some adversity that makes you stronger in the long run. The guys stuck together through some hard losses, but at the same time we play a good schedule. We play good teams. You want to be a shark you’ve got to swim with the sharks.”
Coming up for DL is a home-and-home series with Northern Lakes for a top three place in the section and the Mid-State Conference championship. DL holds marks of 4-1 in the conference and 4-2 in 8A. Northern Lakes is 7-0 in the Mid-State and undefeated in six section games. The teams play in DL Tuesday, Feb. 7 and in Pequot Lakes Friday, Feb. 10. Northern also has a game Thursday, Feb. 9 in Little Falls.
GF 2 1 2 — 5
DL 2 0 0 — 2
GF - Moreland from Bjorge and Cameron Olstad
DL - Paskey from Seebold and Tulius
DL - Tulius from Paskey
GF - Hanson from Lucas Kanta
GF- Murphy from Reller
GF - J. Caufield
GF - Bjorge
Saves: GF - Bucklin 16/18; DL - Boomgarden 26/31