Even though it's winter, a drought ended at the Brainerd Area Civic Center on Saturday night.
Defenseman Tom Zaleski scored the decisive goal and goaltender Joel Zacher stopped 34 shots to help the Brainerd Warriors boys' hockey team to a 3-2 win over the Moorhead Spuds in a non-conference game.
It was the Warriors' first win against Moorhead since the 1990-91 season. The Spuds had won nine straight against Brainerd.
"We haven't had a lot of success against teams that are perennial powers in the state or conference," Brainerd coach Ty Eigner said. "One thing we need to work on, get better at or understand, is how to play with the lead. How do good teams that finish things off play? That will be a huge plus if we can understand that."
Zacher made 10 stops in the opening period, nine in the second and 17 in the third to raise his record to 5-0.
"I was pretty nervous all game," Zacher said. "We have never beaten Moorhead in the history of when I've been playing. It was a big win. It felt good to beat them finally."
The Warriors peeled the Spuds despite getting outshot 36-23, including 17-4 in the final period.
"Joel made some huge saves," Brainerd goalie and assistant coach Toby Kvalevog. "I think he would like to have both goals back. He made some bigger stops than the ones that went in."
Zaleski's slap shot from the point went in at 7:01 of the final period, giving Brainerd its ninth win in its last 10 games and raising its overall record to 12-3-1. Zaleski's shot appeared to hit the handle of Moorhead goaltender Joe Nigg's stick.
"I know it hit him because it deflected up," Zaleski said. "I shot it off-ice and it deflected into the upper corner. I just put it on net. The coaches have been working with us for a couple weeks on hitting the net because I have been having trouble."
Penalties to each team in the final 43 seconds made the finish frantic. Moorhead's Jon Rudnick snapped a hard shot at Zacher from inside the faceoff circle an eye lash before time expired.
"It hit off my stick," Zacher said of the final shot. "It went out front. I was trying to get myself over. Luckily, our defensemen, who played great, cleared it out. They cleared my rebounds out all night."
The Warriors capitalized on 2-of-5 power-play opportunities to Moorhead's 1-of-6 but Eigner thought Warrior special teams weren't functioning at their highest level.
"Our power play has been outstanding percentage-wise," Eigner said, "but I thought our power play was average to below average and we still got two. We were not doing what we needed to do.
"When you exert the effort the kids did you leave a comfort zone and are just playing. You've got to be able to play smart, comfortable and at a high tempo when big games are on the line.
"It's easy to play 6-0 games that you are controlling. When it's up and down and every shift can make or break a period or a game you've got to get focused. The more games we can play like this from here to the end the better off we will be."
Rudnick scored on the Spuds' first shot of the game. Brainerd's J.P. Platisha scored twice in the second period, sandwiched around a goal by the Spuds' Steve Rosenfeldt. Platisha's first goal was from a sharp angle to Nigg's left. Platisha stuffed his second score into the short side.
Moorhead 1 1 0 --2
Brainerd 0 2 1 --3
First period -- M-Jon Rudnick (Wade Harstad) 1:18
Second period -- B-J.P. Platisha (Brian Reese, Henrik Impola) :43; M-Steve Rosenfeldt (Kevin Smith) 4:47 ppg; B-Platisha, 9:58, ppg
Third period -- B-Tom Zaleski (Reese, Colin Ryan) 7:01 ppg
Shots on goal -- M 10-9-17--36; B 7-12-4--23
Goalies -- M-Joe Nigg (20 saves); B-Joel Zacher (34 saves)
Power-play opportunities -- M 1-6; B 2-5
Overall -- M 9-7-1, B 12-3-1. Next game -- Brainerd at Alexandria 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Tigers skate past Flyer boys
ST. CLOUD -- The St. Cloud Tech Tigers handed the Little Falls Flyers a 6-1 Central Lakes Conference boys' hockey loss on Saturday.
The Flyers' lone goal came from the stick of Chris Dobis, with assists by Rusty Deters and Erik Rakow.
The Flyers were outshot 47-14. Flyer goaltender Kent Binger had 41 saves.
Little Falls 0 0 1 -- 1
St. Cloud Tech 0 3 3 -- 6
First period --no scoring
Second period --STC-Jason Meemken 7:43, STC-Andrew Kaasa (Travis Winter, Keith Grant) 9:08 PPG; STC-Aaron Bestgen (Zach Laudenbach, Tony Krueger) 12:10
Third period --LF-Chris Dobis (Rusty Deters, Erik Rakow) 1:04 PPG; STC-Bestgen (Krueger, Tim Smith) 2:07, STC-Bestgen (Brian Fuchs, Nate Miller) 4:44, STC-Bestgen (Krueger, Kaas) 14:43
Shots on goal --LF 14, STC 47
Goalies --LF-Kent Binger (41 saves), STC-Ben Scherer (13 saves)
Power-play opportunities --LF 1-5, STC 1-3
Conference --LF 1-7, STC 3-4. Overall --LF 5-11, STC 7-11. Next game --LF hosts Sauk Centre Tuesday 7:30 p.m.
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