LITTLE FALLS -- When the opposing team can't clear the puck out of its defensive zone the scoring opportunities are plentiful.
That's what happened to the fourth-seeded Little Falls Flyers boys' hockey team as it defeated the No. 5 Crosby-Ironton-Aitkin Rangers 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the Section 4A boys' hockey tournament at the Exchange Arena on Thursday night.
On countless trips past the blue line the Flyers were getting multiple shots at the net. Conversely, the Rangers found themselves one and out most of the night.
"Our defense was a big factor," Flyers goalie Kent Binger said. "The more we control the puck the less chances they have to score on us. That just kept the shots down and it makes it a whole lot easier for me."
With the game tied 1-1 the Flyers went on a scoring rampage, knocking in four unanswered goals.
Rusty Deters connected at the 11:58 mark to give the Flyers a 2-1 advantage. Almost one minute later Erik Rakow slapped in a shot to end the first period at 3-1 but the Flyers wanted more.
"We were up our last regular-season game to Wadena 3-1 and we lost a heartbreaker by one so we've had a hard time with leads," said Little Falls coach Tony Couture. "We just told the kids to relax and do the things we've been talking about all year, have quick feet and use your body, and the rest will take care of itself."
The Flyers outshot the Rangers 12-6 in the first period and 10-6 in the second for a 22-12 edge.
"We had a two-man forecheck working hard," said Couture. "We knew their wings played up top so we tried to keep the puck as low as possible, try to cycle the puck behind the net as much as we could."
In the second period the tandem of Rakow and junior Chris Dobis lit the goal lamp. Rakow scored his second goal at the 7:58 mark, assisted by Dobis. The two connected again, this time Dobis got the goal that gave the Flyers a 5-1 lead.
"I've been struggling lately this season," said Rakow. "It's good to come out here, skate hard and finally get it in the net. We were working real hard, hustling to keep it in our zone and we got a lot of shots off tonight."
The Rangers had trouble clearing the puck in both periods, giving way to the faster, more intense Flyers.
"A lot of it was footwork," Rangers head coach Dave Niemi said. "We were panicking a little bit trying to bank it out. Our guys didn't skate to the puck as well as we could have.
In the third frame with a 5-on-3 advantage Calvin Draheim knocked in his second goal to close the score to 5-2.
After the goal C-I-A still had a one-man advantage. Niemi wanted even more of an advantage when he pulled goalie Andy Wieland for an extra skater. The move backfired as Flyers wing Erik Chisholm fired a loose puck down the rink for an empty net goal.
The Flyers move on to play top-seeded Fergus Falls, which beat Long Prairie-Grey Eagle 9-2 on Thursday.
C-I-A 1 0 1 -- 2
Little Falls 3 2 1 -- 6
First period -- 1, LF-Peter Herman (Matt Klosowski) 9:27; 2, CIA-Calvin Draheim (Landon Heins, Nick Stueven) 9:30; 3, LF-Rusty Deters (Erik Chisholm) 11:58; 4, LF-Eric Rakow (Ryan Priola, Jon Smieja) 12:56.
Second period -- 5, LF-Rakow (Chris Dobis) 7:58, 6, LF-Dobis (Rakow) 14:31.
Third period -- 7, CIA-Draheim (Heins) ppg 11:45; 8, LF-Chisholm (Isaac Smieja) eng 12:35.
Shots on goal -- LF 12 10 6 -- 28, CIA 6 6 13 -- 25
Goalies -- LF Kent Binger (23 saves); CIA Andy Wieland (22 saves)
Power-play opportunities -- LF 0-0, CIA 1-4
Overall -- LF 8-14. Next game -- Little Falls vs. Fergus Falls at Alexandria Saturday 6 p.m.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.