BOYS HOCKEY: Cardinals clobber Eagles, tie for SWC championship
WINDOM -- Scoring three goals in each period, the Luverne Cardinals earned a share of the Southwest Conference boys hockey championship with a 9-0 victory over the Windom Area Eagles Monday night at the Windom City Arena.
Gunnar Olson and Logan Norman each tallied two goals and three assists, while Jackson Frankenhoff also lit the lamp twice and added an assist and Kendall Meyer preserved the shutout with 15 saves.
Olson scored the game's first goal and game-winning goal at 5 minutes, 55 seconds of the opening period when the junior forward used a backhand shot to beat Eagles goalie Ben Stubbe (eight saves). Olson was assisted by Chaz Smedsrud and Norman.
Following a Jackson Frankenhoff unassisted goal at 11:31 of the first frame, Olson extended the lead to 3-0 when he cleaned up a rebound off Stubbe at 13:26 with Norman recording the helper.
"I got set-up from Logan Norman," Olson said of his early goals following the game. "He's been my linemate for my whole life. We've worked together for a long time.
"We've been putting up solid points, so it's been fun -- we work together really well. We were clicking (Monday night) after being off for a couple of games and we just got back in our groove."
Olson's tallies provided all the support Meyer needed in net -- recording his fifth shutout of the year and eighth overall for Luverne (18-3-1, 8-2-0).
"Kendall's been a stud his whole life," Olson added. "He doesn't let pucks in very often and if he does, he seldom gets mad at himself. He's always on top of his game and he's always fun to be around."
Luverne's co-head coach Tony Sandbulte agreed about Meyer's value in goal for the Cardinals. In addition to Meyer's five shutouts, the junior goalie has a record of 15-3-1 with 1.65 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
"(Kendall's) been consistent for us all year," Sandbulte said. "I can't say enough about him. He's been working hard and doing what he needs to do in practice. It's always nice knowing that we have Kendall back there helping us out in tough situations."
Windom Area, which nearly tied the game at 1 early when Andrew Hirsch hit the pipe with a shot, was limited in its chances throughout the game and was stymied by the Cardinals' defense on its only power play of the game in the first period.
"Our defense locked up tight against (Windom Area)," Sandbulte said. "We knew No. 9, Travis Janssen, is a strong player for them and we wanted to make sure that he wasn't the one hurting us and we were able to do that."
Janssen, who has 32 goals and 20 assists on the season, along with teammates Zach Bartosh, Tyler Presthus, Devin Nielsen and Dylan Pigman all put quality shots on goal during the game, only to be denied by Meyer.
"Luverne's a good team," Eagles head coach Jon Ammerman said. "They came out hard and when you're down 3-0 after the first period, it's tough to come back from. Our guys worked hard until the end. It's obviously disappointing, but Luverne's a good team."
In the second period, Smedsrud (three points) extended the lead to 4-0 with a marker off assists to Skyler Wenninger and Jonny Solma on a power play at 4:11, while Travis Frakes made it 5-0 at 13:15 off a Frankenhoff assist.
Norman was assisted by Olson at 15:28 of the second period for the sixth Cardinals' goal, beating Tyler McGowan (18 saves), who replaced Stubbe in goal to start the period.
Norman opened the third-period scoring at 2:12 by cleaning up a rebound with assists to Olson and Smedsrud.
Nine minutes later, Jordan Dingmann scored on Luverne's second power play with Norman and Olson setting up the eighth goal.
Luverne completed the game's scoring with 2:03 remaining when Dalton Smeins passed to Frankenhoff, who lifted a shot from the middle of the left circle past McGowan's glove side.
The Cardinals share the co-Southwest Conference championship with Marshall -- a team Luverne's finished behind in the league standings for several years.
"It's something that we've been working towards for quite a while and it does feel good to finally get it," Sandbulte said. "But right now, we have to refocus our attention to the section playoffs -- tweak a few things and get our game where we want it."
Luverne travels to play Hutchinson (5-15-0), a team it could possibly meet in the Section 3A playoffs, on Friday.
"Friday's a big game for us against Hutchinson," Olson said. "They are part of our section, so it will be a good game."
Windom Area (11-9-0, 5-4-0) also plays a Section 3A opponent in its next game. The Eagles go to Fairmont Thursday.
"It still matters for section seeding," Ammerman said of Thursday's game. "Luverne's going to be the No. 1 seed, so we know where the bar is set.
"Obviously, we still need to get a little bit better in a lot of areas. But we still have some time. It's not over yet."
LUVERNE 9, WINDOM AREA 0
Luverne (18-3-1, 8-2-0) 3 3 3 -- 9
Windom Area (11-9, 5-4) 0 0 0 -- 0
First Period: 1. Luverne, Olson (Smedsrud, Norman), 5:55; 2. Luverne, Frankenhoff (Unassisted), 11:31; 3. Luverne, Olson (Norman), 13:26. Penalties: Norman, Luverne (Interference), 8:28.
Second Period: 4. Luverne, Smedsrud (Wenninger, Solma), 4:11 (pp); 5. Luverne, Frakes (Frankenhoff), 13:15; 6. Luverne, Norman (Olson), 15:28. Penalties: Leopold, Windom Area (Holding), 2:53.
Third Period: 7. Luverne, Norman (Olson, Smedsrud), 2:12; 8. Luverne, Dingmann (Norman, Olson), 11:12 (pp); 9. Luverne, Frankenhoff (Smeins), 14:57. Penalties: Janssen, Windom Area (Hooking), 10:03.
Shots On-Goal: Luverne 11-14-10--35; Windom Area 6-4-5--15.
Power-Play Opportunities: Luverne 2 of 2; Windom Area 0 of 1.
Goalies: Luverne, Meyer, 15 shots, 15 saves. Windom Area, Stubbe, 11 shots, 8 saves; Windom Area, McGowan (0:00 second), 24 shots, 18 saves.