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DeConcini three-point night in Laker shutout of Park Rapids

Laker junior goalie Mackenzie Steele puts the wraps on one of his 20 saves during DL’s 3-0 shutout of the Park Rapids Panthers Tuesday. Brian Basham/Forum News Service

DETROIT LAKES — With the Section 8-1A playoffs looming in the short distance, the Detroit Lakes boys’ hockey team logged in one of their better games of 2014 in what could be thought of as the biggest victory of the season, as well.

Laker junior goalie MacKenzie Steele played a near perfect game and recorded his second shutout of the season with a 3-0 win over visiting Park Rapids Tuesday.

The win ensures the Lakers a share of the Mid-State crown along with the Panthers, with both posting 7-1 conference marks, while more importantly, gives DL the edge in section seedings with a 15-7-1 record.

The win also avenges an earlier loss to the Panthers (16-6-3) and evens up the season series at 1-1.

“It’s good that we won the last game of the year and got the shutout tonight,” said DL head coach Chris Denardo. “We wanted to be the aggressors all night long and I thought our fore check was good. Their power plays were not very strong, because our penalty kill was solid.”

The Lakers also controlled the puck for the majority of the game, outshooting the Panthers by a 39-20 margin. They held Park Rapids to five shots in each of the first and third periods.

All 20 shots were snuffed out by Steele, who is playing some of his best hockey heading into the playoffs, which start next week. The Lakers will finish up the regular season in Little Falls (3-19-2) Thursday.

For Steele, ringing up a shutout in one of DL’s most important games of the season made it that much sweeter.

“A shutout is always better,” Steele said. “We are starting to feel some momentum; this was a big win for us.”

DL was very stingy with their penalty kill, holding the Panthers to minimal shots during their power plays, in which they went 0-3.

“Give credit to defense and forwards, they played a great game,” Steele said. “(The penalty kill line) did a good job getting to the puck and not allowing any good shots to Park Rapids, while leaving the lanes open so I could see.”

Another key was DL’s ability to strike early on Panther goalie Cody Brumbaugh, who had 38 saves against the Lakers previously in PR’s 4-3 win.

The Lakers welcomed back sophomore center Jon Richards, who put DL on the board 3:30 into the game on assists by linemates Ryan DeConcini and Wilson Lysford.

DeConcini struck for a 2-0 lead with 1:21 left in the first period, this time with Richards and Lysford assisting.

Getting the two-goal lead after one period was exactly what the hockey doctor ordered.

“We needed to get to (Brumbaugh) in the first period and not let him settle in, because he is a solid goalie,” Denardo said. “That’s what the boys were able to do.”

After a scoreless second period, Richards notched his second goal on a rebound given up by Brumbaugh 7:42 in, with senior defenseman Michael Herrmann and DeConcini on the assists.

“Jon came back basically where he left off,” Denardo said of Richards’ missing the last four of five games with an injury.

DL now has a pair of 50-plus point scorers in Richards (53 points) and DeConcini (51).

But the Denardo also credits the second and third lines for being important contributors, as well.

“All three lines played solid, got pressure and got their shots,” the DL coach said. “The second and third lines played great defensive zone, that’s just as valuable as getting pucks in the net.”

Section seedings will be out later Wednesday afternoon.

Quick start helps Lakers roll over Lightning

The Lakers were zeroed in on the visiting Northern Lakes’ net Friday evening, as they pummeled it 27 times in the first two periods to aid them into building a 5-0 lead.

That was more than enough for DL, as the Lakers improved to 14-7-1.

The Lakers, who were still playing without leading scorer Jon Richards, had a pair of players pick up the slack with second-leading scorer Ryan DeConcini and Jacob Fritz each notching a pair of goals in the win.

DL was also 2-7 in power play opportunities, with Sam Boomgarden and Josh Bollig each scoring on the special teams.

Assists were dished out by Tanner Steele, Brandon Olson, DeConcini, Jonathan Hallisey, Cooper Heimark, Tyler Berby, Bollig (two), Jacob Anderson and Joe Solberg.

MacKenzie Steele picked up the win with 25 saves, while the Lightning’s Mitch Stangel had 33.  

Park Rapids at Detroit Lakes, Tuesday, Feb. 11

Panthers     0 0 0 – 0

Lakers        2 0 1 – 3

1st Period -- Scoring: DTRTLK - Richards Goal (even strength) (DeConcini, Lysford) 3:30; DTRTLK - DeConcini Goal (even strength) (Richards, Lysford) 16:39.Penalties: Boomgarden, DTRTLK (Holding, Minor, 2 min) 5:00. Goalie Changes:None

2nd Period -- Scoring: None. Penalties: Olson, DTRTLK (Checking to Head/Neck, Major, 5 min) 4:02; Brand, P RPDS (Slashing, Minor, 2 min) 5:22; Macpherson, P RPDS (Interference, Minor, 2 min) 9:37; Stewart, P RPDS (Interference, Minor, 2 min) 13:25. Goalie Changes: None

3rd Period -- Scoring: DTRTLK - Richards Goal (even strength) (Herrmann, Deconcini) 7:42. Penalties: Nelson, DTRTLK (Boarding, Major, 5 min) 5:20; Stewart, P RPDS (Charging, Minor, 2 min) 6:33; Jaeger, P RPDS (Slashing, Minor, 2 min) 9:47.Goalie Changes: None

Shots on goal – DL 13 11 15 – 39…PR 5 9 6 – 20

Saves – DL (MacKenzie Steele) 20…PR (Cody Brumbaugh) 36

Northern Lakes at Detroit Lakes, Friday, Feb. 7

Lightning   0 0 1 – 1

Lakers      2 3 1 – 6 

1st Period -- Scoring: DTRTLK - Fritz Goal (even strength) (Deconcini) 14:07; DTRTLK - Deconcini Goal (even strength) (Bollig, Heimark) 14:59. Penalties:Bremseth, DTRTLK (Interference, Minor, 2 min) 5:22; Maucieri, NRTNLK (Tripping, Minor, 2 min) 7:00; Herrmann, DTRTLK (Interference, Minor, 2 min) 8:39; Swell, NRTNLK (Cross-Checking, Minor, 2 min) 15:32. Goalie Changes: None

2nd Period -- Scoring: DTRTLK - Boomgarden Goal (power play) (Olson) 2:20; DTRTLK - Deconcini Goal (even strength) (Solberg, Bollig) 9:31; DTRTLK - Bollig Goal (power play) (Steele, Hallisey) 11:51. Penalties: Mesenbrink, NRTNLK (Interference, Minor, 2 min) 1:20; Bollig, DTRTLK (Slashing, Minor, 2 min) 3:27; Hallisey, DTRTLK (Hooking, Minor, 2 min) 4:54; Swell, NRTNLK (Tripping, Minor, 2 min) 10:23; Swell, NRTNLK (Roughing, Minor, 2 min) 11:23; Mesenbrink, NRTNLK (Tripping, Minor, 2 min) 16:17. Goalie Changes: None

3rd Period -- Scoring: NRTNLK - Blanchette Goal (power play) (Reed) 4:42; DTRTLK - Fritz Goal (even strength) (Berby, Anderson) 12:10. Penalties: Bremseth, DTRTLK (Interference, Minor, 2 min) 2:46; Nelson, DTRTLK (Slashing, Minor, 2 min) 3:30; Rickard, NRTNLK (High-Sticking, Minor, 2 min) 15:23. Goalie Changes:None

Shots on goal – DL 12 15 12 – 39…NL 9 8 9 – 26

Saves – DL (MacKenzie Steele) 25…NL (Mitch Stangel) 33

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.