The Willmar WarHawks erased four Blizzard leads to win in overtime Saturday night to steal a point in Alexandria’s opener at home. Willmar’s first lead came within 27 seconds of the 3-on-3 overtime session to take home the 7-6 victory.
“We didn’t play a full game tonight,” Nolan Westra said. “I think we showed that we were the best team at times, but results like this happen when you don’t play a full game. It’s a good team that’s going to fight for a playoff spot, and we gave them too many chances. tonight.”
Cole Lehmann celebrates the game’s second goal during Alexandria’s overtime loss to Willmar on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Blizzard scored a pair of goals in the first period from Brandon Greeder and Cole Lehmann. However, they could have had more. In the first 12 minutes of the game, Alexandria had four power plays, but only came out with one special teams goal. Leaving the door open for Willmar would again bite the blizzard 17 seconds before intermission. Cayden Sunde hit a loose puck after a defensive failure triggered an odd-man run at WarHawk.
The WarHawks tied the game six minutes into the second with Jeremiah Konkel’s stick before Alexandria captain Dallas Duckson scored two goals in the final four minutes of the second period to take a 4-2 lead.
“That’s why he’s our captain,” said assistant coach Jon Crouse. “We are watching our leaders grow big when we need them so far this season, and he got us two big goals. Guys like Dallas, Carter Rieland, Nolan Westra and all the returning players should set the tone for us at the beginning of the season as the younger ones adjust to the speed of the game in the juniors. Sometimes it takes a week to build chemistry on the ice, but other times it takes a month. Until each line clicks, we need the guys to step up. ”
Sean Kenny retrieves the puck in the middle of the offensive zone Saturday night during Blizzard’s overtime loss to the Willmar WarHawks. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Tyler Corbid and Kaidden O’Connor scored goals unaided to start the third period and tie the game for Willmar. Just 11 seconds after O’Connor’s account, Westra regained the lead for Blizzard only to have it slip away 32 seconds later when Elbridge DeKraai erased the game’s third lead.
Willmar’s penalty problems continued through the third period. A verification call from behind put Blizzard in the power game with less than five minutes to play. Sean Kenny found a rebound from Andrew Revering’s shot from the spot to put Blizzard up 6-5 with less than four minutes to go.
Alexandria’s lack of discipline reared its head when Blizzard had too many men on the ice in the final three minutes of the game. After killing the penalty, Alexandria had a chance to freeze the game. Two Blizzard players found themselves in a 2v0 skating towards the empty net but entered the offside zone.
After the ensuing showdown, Willmar’s Ben Johnson drove the puck through the neutral zone and beat Alexandria goalkeeper Bailey Rosch with 11 seconds into regulation time. In overtime, a Blizzard fumble triggered another bizarre run in which Jerimiah Konkel scored 27 seconds after the first meeting.
Caleb Strong makes a move on a defender near the side boards who enters the offensive zone in the first period. Alexandria lost to Willmar WarHawks in their first home game Saturday night in overtime. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
“It’s obviously not the way we wanted to end things tonight,” Crouse said. “If you look at this weekend as a whole, I think getting three of the four points puts us in a good position. If we do it every weekend, we are doing something well, but this is going to hurt us a bit ”.
With a slightly shorter schedule and only division teams on the agenda, Blizzard feels the importance of each matchup.
“We can’t afford to leave spots on the ice this year,” Westra said. “We have a really competitive division, which makes hockey really fun, but we need to take the wins when we can. We don’t want to be left out looking towards the end of the year ”.
Blizzard was 3 of 8 in the power play, but missed opportunities to put the game out of reach at crucial moments.
“This was one of those rare nights where if we left ourselves like we missed a lot of opportunities in the power game even though we scored three times,” Crouse said. “We have some things to consider this week, but it is still early. We have to start capitalizing on the mistakes of our opponents when we get the chance. ”
Wyatt Blahosky throws a bad-angled archery shot in the first period of Alexandria’s overtime loss to Willmar on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Playing a full game nearly cost Blizzard two more points on Friday in New Ulm. Alexandria came out with a 5-3 win after scoring four goals in the third period.
“We were asleep for the first two and a half periods before the offense woke up,” Crouse said. “We know we can beat any team we are in this year, but we have to put it together. New Ulm had its chances to beat us, and Willmar seized his tonight. It will just be competitive throughout the season. “
BLIZZARD 0 1 4 – 5
STEEL 2 0 1-3
SCORE- FIRST PERIOD- New Ulm- Joey Gimberlin (Parker Lawrence, Parker Dorn) 16:30; New Power Play by Ulm-Corey Stormer (Gimberlin, Nathan Looft), 17:54; SECOND PERIOD- Alexandria- Cole Lehmann (Caleb Strong, Wyatt Johnson) 19:22; THIRD PERIOD- New Ulm- Gimberlin (no assist) with few hands, 2:24; Alexandria-Cole Jacobs (Austin McNeil, Logan Stellmach) 8:23; Alexandria-McNeil (unaided) 12:43; Alexandria- Cole Klingbeil (unassisted) 17:54; Alexandria- Strong empty network (unaided), 19:59; SANCTIONS- Alexandria- 31 minutes in 5 infractions, New Ulm- 31 minutes in 5 infractions; GOALKEEPER- Alexandria- Bailey Rosch, W, 47 saves, 3 goals allowed; New Ulm- Griffin Foster, L, 26 saves, 4 goals allowed;
WARHAWKS 1 1
BLIZZARD 2 2
SCORE- FIRST PERIOD- Alexandria- Brandon Greeder (Matthew Thompson, Watt Blahosky) 3:42; Alexandria- Cole Lehmann (Andrew Revering, Nikolai Rajala) power play, 12:15; Willmar- Jack Willis (Cayden Sunde, Louis Anders) 19:43; SECOND PERIOD- Willmar- Jeremiah Konkel (Michael Sweetland, Owen Thomas) 6:26; Alexandria- Dallas Duckson (Nolan Westra. Carter Rieland) power play, 4:10 pm; Alexandria-Duckson (Westra, Blahosky) 18:36; THIRD PERIOD- Willmar- Tyler Corbid (unaided) 3:24; Willmar-Kaidden O’Connor (unaided) 7:23; Alexandria-Westra (Blahosky) 7:37; Willmar-Elbridge DeKraai (Corbid) 8:12; Alexandria- Sean Kenny (Revering, Strong) power play, 16:12, Willmar- Ben Johnson (Corbid, DeKraai) 19:49; OVER HOURS- Willmar- Jeremiah Konkel (Ben Johnson) 0:27; SANCTIONS- Alexandria- 20 minutes, 6 infractions; Willmar- 48 minutes, 12 infractions; GOALKEEPER- Alexandria- Bailey Rosch, OTL, 30 saves, 7 goals allowed; Luke Weberg, W, 35 saves, 6 goals allowed;