WHS Boys' Hockey: Cards knock off Trojans 5-1WORTHINGTON — Thursday night at the Worthington Arena, the Luverne Cardinals boys’ hockey team showed why it is one of the top teams in the Southwest Conference and in Section 3A.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Thursday night at the Worthington Arena, the Luverne Cardinals boys’ hockey team showed why it is one of the top teams in the Southwest Conference and in Section 3A.
The Cardinals defeated the Worthington Trojans by a score of 5-1 in an effort that saw visitors outshoot the hosts by a 46 to 13 margin, while also winning the battle in the faceoff circle by a 42 to 27 differential.
“Luverne is obviously the best team in our conference,” WHS head coach Pat Christopherson said. “They are very strong, very skilled, well coached and disciplined. It’s hard to keep up with them.”
That skill and discipline was displayed throughout the game as Luverne dominated the time of possession with its relentless, upbeat style of play by consistently forcing the puck into the Trojans’ end and limiting its opponent’s chances on the other end.
“The kids did some nice things,” Luverne co-head coach Tony Sandbulte said following the game. “The kids were working hard and we got the puck deep. We did some good things down low, cycling the puck.”
The Cardinals opened the scoring five minutes and 53 seconds into the contest on a power play, when sophomore forward Gunnar Olson sent a puck in towards the net from high above the right circle off a feed from Austin Maxwell.
Cody Christensen then grabbed the rebound off of Trojan goalie Rylan Scholtes and backhanded into the net for a 1-0 lead.
The score remained the same through the end of the opening frame as Scholtes kept turning aside the Cardinals’ barrage at the net and his Trojan teammates did a nice job of taking Cardinal skaters off the puck.
“Give credit to Worthington. They played a nice defensive game,” Sandbulte said. “They clogged the neutral zone up and did a nice job as we couldn’t transition like we wanted to. Worthington did a really nice job as they worked really hard, so give a lot of credit to them.”
However, the Cardinals quickly widened the margin to two goals 33 seconds into the second as the visitors, once again, cycled the puck through the Trojans’ end.
Jonny Solma threaded a pass into the left circle to Christensen, who passed to an open Maxwell in the right circle. The junior defenseman rifled the puck past Scholtes’ stick for a 2-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Luverne went on its second power play of the night.
The Trojans nearly killed off their second penalty of the game, but the Cardinals capitalized on the man advantage with one second left as Toby Sengvongxay sent the puck in from the blue line and Logan Norman cleaned up the rebound for a 3-0 advantage with 10:55 remaining in the second.
WHS called a time out after that goal in order to regroup its efforts.
The score remained 3-0 for the balance of the middle frame as the Trojans slowed the game down by icing the puck numerous times.
“For the first two periods, all we wanted from the kids was to ice it and reset to get a break,” Christopherson said. “That was the game plan for the first two periods, basically. Ice it and cross your fingers.”
The Cardinals were able to make it a four-goal bulge one minute and four seconds into the final period as the visitors moved the puck up ice quickly.
Jordan Dingmann passed the puck out of the Luverne end into the neutral zone to Hoffmann.
Hoffman then connected with Dylan Skattum across the blue line and Skattum closed in on Scholtes from the slot and fired it past the Trojan netminder for a 4-0 lead.
Meanwhile, WHS wasn’t ready to give up the battle as Jonah Oberloh sent a pair of shots in on Luverne goalie Austin Van Santen around the 14:30 mark and the Trojans continued to work hard on defense.
After killing off a penalty with nine minutes remaining in the contest, the Trojans took advantage of a pair of Cardinal penalties that occurred at the 8:07 and 7:28 mark for a two-man advantage.
Oberloh controlled the puck down low in the left circle for the Trojans and gave the puck off to Ethan Stofferan. The senior forward skated with the puck from left to right across the slot while putting a wrist shot on goal, but was denied on the first attempt.
Fortunately, Van Santen allowed a rebound from the initial attempt and Stofferan collected the puck and slammed it into the net for the lone Trojan goal with 6:41 left.
“That’s the kind of goal we’ve been trying to score all year,” Christopherson said. “The ones where you pick up the mess around the net and crash it as hard as you can. That’s the grinding, workman-type goal that we want.”
Luverne widened the spread back to four goals with 4:29 left as Hoffman found the back of the WHS net after cleaning up a rebound off a shot from Travis Frakes.
WHS continued to battle in the final minutes but the game came to a close with the 5-1 final.
“Rylan played very well all game and we showed some spark in the third period,” Christopherson said. “We are happy with the way the guys put in their effort. When you play a team that is that good and you come out only losing by four, we’re alright.”
Scholtes finished the contest with 41 saves, while his counterpart, Van Santen, had 12 saves.
“Worthington did a good job of blocking passes to the net and their goalie (Scholtes) played really good,” Christensen said. “We were working him all game but we couldn’t get much past him. He had a good game”
Despite the disparate shot advantage, Christensen hopes his team’s offense picks it up going forward.
“We showed good effort, but we are struggling on offense,” Christensen said. “We are not putting the puck away like we would like to.”
With the loss, WHS falls to 3-13-1 overall and 0-8-1 in the SWC. The Trojans travel to Waseca, a team they beat on Dec. 17 2-0, Saturday.
Meanwhile, Luverne improves to 14-3-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference. The Cardinals travel to Morris-Benson Area Saturday.
“We go to Morris on Saturday and then host Windom on Tuesday,” Sandbulte said. “Both games are conference games and will be tough. We are not going to take either game lightly as both teams are playing good hockey as of late.”
Luverne 1 2 2 — 5
WHS 0 0 1 — 1