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Boys hockey: Storm handles Trojans late, 7-1

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Trojan senior goalie Alex Purdy fills the net to stop a breakaway shot during Saturday’s high school boys hockey game in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON — For most of the game’s first 42 minutes Saturday afternoon, the Worthington Trojans skated with the visiting Morris-Benson Area Storm in Southwest Conference high school boys’ hockey action at the Worthington Ice Arena.

But in the final nine minutes, the Storm (5-15-1, 3-5) effectively put the contest out of reach by scoring three goals and stretching a 4-1 lead into a 7-1 victory over the Trojans (4-15, 1-8).

Worthington finishes its conference schedule Thursday by hosting Redwood Valley (3-10, 0-7), a team the Trojans defeated 5-3 early in the season (Dec. 3) at Redwood Falls.

Saturday’s loss to M-BA was Worthington’s second recent setback to the Storm, which claimed a 6-3 victory over the Trojans at Morris on Jan. 24.

This time around, the red-and-black played hard through the first two periods and eight minutes into the third. But, the blue-clad visitors capitalized on a tiring Trojan squad plagued by too many penalties and turned a competitive game into a one-sided win in the closing minutes.

“Our defense played well in front of me through the first two periods,” declared Worthington senior goalie Alex Purdy, who finished the game with 49 saves and several remarkable rejections. “But, we don’t have the depth of a lot of teams and I think our guys were getting tired towards the end. Plus, we had too many penalties, giving them a lot of power play situations — which makes it hard when you’re outnumbered out there.”

Indeed, penalties were a factor, as the Storm took advantage, scoring five of their goals when the Trojans were playing shorthanded.

M-BA scored just once in the opening period and when Worthington junior Andrew Johnson knocked in his team-leading 15th goal of the season — early in the second period — the Trojans played for several minutes with the score tied at 1-1.

Purdy made a great one-handed catch of a puck fired by the Storm at the 5:03 mark and the Trojans, who had fired 13 shots on goal — compared to 22 by M-BA — remained in a deadlock.

Worthington sophomore Tony Lopez had a clear shot on goal stopped by M-BA goalie Kyle Kennedy (28 saves) and senior defenseman Zach Heidebrink rejected a Storm shot before it reached Purdy during the next exchanges as things remained close.

Then, at the 5:53 mark, M-BA’s Bo Olson (assisted by Bo Gullickson and Cole Watzke) scored a power play goal, giving the Storm a 2-1 edge.

Just a bit later, Johnson had a breakaway goal opportunity snuffed by Kennedy, as were Trojan shot attempts by Alan Olhousen and Kody Honius.

Purdy made a trio of dandy saves in a 53-second span and came up with another pair in a quick 10-second sequence as he continually battled in the net and kept the puck from entering.

At 6:27, Watzke — again on the power play — got one past Purdy, and M-BA had a 3-1 lead and began gathering momentum.

The Trojans, however, held steady through the rest of the period as Purdy continued to defend well and Johnson — off a nice pass from Devon Bents — had another good shot on goal.

At the 15:32 mark, Honius nearly scored and Worthington’s Nick Newman — who has a team-leading 23 points (14 assists, nine goals) this season — was doing a good job of disrupting puck movement by the Storm.

Purdy, who had 32 of his saves during the first two periods, rejected a hard M-BA shot attempt at the second-period buzzer.

Two minutes into the third frame, Johnson had another good shot blocked by Kennedy and three minutes later, Trojan Evan Eggers fired a hard slap shot on goal from the middle of the blue line.

In between those two strong Worthington attempts, the Storm increased their lead to 4-1 with a goal at 2:59.

Purdy rejected a long hard shot by M-BA’s Nate Vipond and stopped several more shots in the ensuing exchanges as the score remained at 4-1 for several minutes.

But, M-BA finished off the game with three goals in the last half of the period, handing the Trojans their eighth consecutive loss.

The Section 3A tournament begins Feb. 18.

Morris-Benson Area 1 2 4 — 7

Worthington 0 1 0 — 1