Boys hockey one game away from State

By: 
Andrea Nelson

Minnesota River goalie Andrew Regner saves a shot by Albert Lea. Regner allowed two goals in the first period and saved another 24 shots on goal during the game.
2120-Lane Schwarz leaps for joy as he watches the Bulldogs score in the second period. Schwarz, a senior forward for Minnesota River had an assist in the 6-2 victory over the Albert Lea Tigers. (Andrea Nelson Photo)

After being postponed twice, the Minnesota River Bulldogs were finally able to play hockey Tuesday night.

The boys hockey team took on the Albert Lea Tigers in sectional playoff action in Rochester.

Both teams started strong with the drive to score first and keep the momentum in their favor.

Third seeded Albert Lea took a couple shots early, but each was deflected by Minnesota River goalie Andrew Regner.

The Bulldogs, seeded second, gained possession of the puck and had a hard slapshot be deflected by Albert Lea’s goalie, Jaxson Heilman, which drew a large groan from the fans that made the trek to Rochester for the tournament.

The next shot, seconds later sailed underneath Heilman’s legs, giving Minnesota River their first lead of the game at 2:25 in the first period. Charlie Weick made the goal for the Bulldogs and was assisted by Tyson Sowder.

The score remained 1-0 until Albert Lea’s Marcus Dempewolf scored at 10:16, with assistance from Jack Edwin and Spencer Clark.

Less than a minute later Sowder answered the Tigers goal, by scoring his first goal of the night at 10:41. He was assisted by Hunter Wilmes. The score was now 2-1.

Thirteen seconds went by and the Tigers scored again, bringing the game back to a tie 2-2.

The Bulldogs third goal of the period came on a power play by Wilmes. Albert Lea’s Isaiah VanRyswyk was serving two minutes for hooking.

Minnesota River’s Blake Olness received a major penalty for checking from behind at 13:44 on the play clock.

While on the power play, Albert Lea attempted a slap shot from near center ice and missed connecting with the puck, allowing the Bulldogs to steal the puck and take it down the ice. While attempting to score, Albert Lea’s Cole Wentzel was called for hooking.

Minnesota River’s coach Shea Roehrkasse opted to take the power play instead of the penalty shot for the infraction and resulted in neither team scoring.

The Bulldogs left the first period ahead 3-2 with 13 shots on goal compared to 16 by Albert Lea.

The Bulldogs came on strong in the second period, scoring two more times against the Tigers. Scores came from Jade Reicks and Logan Throldahl. They were assisted by Lane Schwarz and Zack Wendorff, respectively.

By the third period, Albert Lea’s drive that had been present at the beginning of the game had sputtered out and the Bulldogs maintained control of the puck and the game, scoring once more, to bring the final score in their favor 6-2.

Scoring his second goal for the Bulldogs on the night was Wilmes on a power play in the third period.

Roehrkasse said, "Boys came with great attitude and effort tonight. These guys did a great job of weathering the storm in the first period and extending the lead after. Andy had some great saves for us in the second to keep us in the lead. Our boys played hard, supported each other and got the job done. I am incredibly proud of these guys and we are looking forward to giving it our best Thursday night in Rochester."

Minnesota River will play the number four seeded Rochester Lourdes, who finished 14-10 in the regular season, Thursday night for the championship leading up to the state tournament. Game time is at 7 p.m. at the Rochester Rec. Center.

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