Boys hockey: Johnson's hat trick helps Trojans to victory, Luverne tops Windom Area
WORTHINGTON — Scoring the game’s final two goals was what it took for the Worthington boys hockey team to break a 3-3 stalemate and defeat Fairmont 5-3 Tuesday night in a game played at the Worthington Ice Arena.
Despite what Trojans coach Nate Grimmius called a “sluggish” start, the Trojans found an answer for virtually everything thrown at them in the game. In every way possible, they were resilient and found a way to earm their second win of the season.
“Overall we were a little sluggish and slow tonight,” Grimmius said. “We just didn’t have our legs. We found a way to pull it out and it is a nice win for the guys. I’ll give them that.”
Worthington trailed just once on the night, following Fairmont’s first score 3:01 into the game. Sam Havenen snuck in a goal through the two-hole for the Cardinals off an assist by Joshua Abel, but the Trojans settled down both on defense and in the net to give themselves a chance.
Trojans goalie Alex Purdy spectacularly stuffed anything else Fairmont tried through the first period. He had 11 saves in the first frame alone and had racked up three dozen by the night’s close.
Worthington opened its scoring just 57 seconds after Havenen’s goal. Junior forward Andrew Johnson broke away and scored off an assist from Nick Newman to knot the game. Worthington took advantage of a power play, following a minor penalty charged to Fairmont for interference, as Alex Kramer found Newman from behind the goal for the initial go-ahead spark at the 11:48 mark of the first period.
The second frame was a back-and-forth one, as Fairmont’s Ben Mitchell tipped the puck in off a flurry of activity just outside the crease to knot the game up. Worthington again led, this time off of Johnson’s second goal, a breakaway goal scored through the five-hole off an assist from Newman at the 5:21 mark of the period.
The Cards rallied yet again, scoring 9:18 into the second period, as Brock Johnson and Rodney Engstrom paired to find Trason Arens to tie the game for its final time.
Then the Trojans finished it, even fending off a major penalty for checking from behind in the final 17 minutes.
“We told our guys it would come down to the third period. We had the lead going into the third period, but if we would have continued to play like we did in the first two periods, we’d end up losing the game,” Grimmius said. “The guys worked hard to fight off that major penalty. Anytime you can fight off a five-minute major penalty, that’s tough to do. Especially in the third period.”
Johnson finished off his hat-trick to hand his Trojans a 4-3 advantage at the 15:20 mark of the second frame, taking advantage of an empty net off an assist from Newman. Newman then took a pass from Evan Eggers and Kramer to seal the deal 3:35 into the third period. Purdy finished with 18 saves in the third period to help put away the game.
“Purdy made some good key saves for us tonight, but it is still an Achille’s heel of ours that we are trying to be able to get out of our own defensive zone,” Grimmius explained. “We have a few things to clean up before Luverne.”
The Trojans will get ready for a trip to Luverne on Thursday night. The Cardinals come in off a 9-0 win Tuesday night over Windom Area.
“We did alright tonight but could have seen a little more speed and hustle to the puck. Overall we did a good job though and I am excited with how it ended up,” Johnson said after his hat trick effort. “Luverne will be big competition for us. We just have to keep our heads up and do the best we can.”
Fairmont 1 2 0 — 3
Worthington 2 2 1 — 5
Luverne 9, Windom Area 0 LUVERNE —Luverne’s Chaz Smedsrud, Gunnar Olson and Logan Norman each scored two goals and helped the Cardinals beat Windom Area 9-0.
Andrew Verhey, Erik Tofteland and Connor Hoffman each added goals of their own to help in the win. Luverne broke a scoreless game open in the second period, putting three goals in. They exploded for six more in the third period.
Luverne improved to 8-0 with the win. The Cardinals are 4-0 in Southwest Conference play. Windom Area fell to 3-5 overall.
Windom Area 0 0 0 — 0
Luverne 0 3 6 —9