Langerud gets hat trick as boys hockey team wins key game
The Worthington boys hockey team won a big victory over Windom Area Monday night, 6-1
WORTHINGTON -- Hats were flung onto the ice when Alec Langerud scored his third goal of the game with 7:25 left to play in the third period. But the vocal and observant student section Monday night at the Worthington Ice Arena was celebrating more than one player’s big night.
It was a big night all around as the Trojans took on the rival Windom Area Eagles. The two Big South Conference teams have enjoyed a spirited hockey rivalry over the years, and by virtue of Windom’s 5-2 win over the Trojans Jan. 20 in Windom, the Eagles had a leg up on the Worthington squad while seedings have yet to be made for the upcoming section tournament.
Now it’s advantage Worthington. WHS earned a solid 6-1 victory over their rivals from the north on Monday, and that might do more than just raise the team’s confidence level.
“It definitely puts us in the conversation to not be playing in the play-in round (of the section tournament),” said Trojans head coach Tyler Nienkerk. “That was our goal. We didn’t want to play in that.”
Worthington has two regular season away games remaining against non-conference and non-section opponents before the section tournament begins on Feb. 22. Nienkerk said Monday’s win was important for seeding purposes and also important for the team’s confidence. It pushed the Trojans to 11-12 on the season while dropping the Eagles to 10-13-1.
“Right from the get-go, the kids came out on fire. Big game against a conference rival, and I’m real proud of the way the kids came out and played,” Nienkerk declared.
Langerud, a senior forward, scored Worthington’s first, fourth and sixth goals of the game. He said it was the first hat trick he’d ever accomplished while on varsity.
Days before the matchup with Windom Area, he said, he and his teammates -- knowing the game’s significance -- were pumped up.
After the game, Langerud was still feeling it.
“I think having that momentum (going into the sections), especially with a 6-1 win like that, just knowing what we can do in the section tournament, that’s a big confidence-booster,” he said.
Langerud’s first goal came with 11:55 remaining in the first period, with an assist from teammate Logan Powers.
Windom Area answered back with 5:41 remaining as Wyatt Haugen scored with a short punch-in only a foot or two in front of the Worthington net.
But Worthington scored three times in the second period. Blake Luinenburg put the puck in goal at the 16:40 mark on a nice wrist shot from 14 feet out. Then less than a minute later Blake Ahrenstorff sent a beautiful pass from deep in the left corner to teammate Konner Honius waiting just in front of the Windom net. Honius swept the puck into the net in one quick motion.
The score became 4-1 as Langerud scored an unassisted goal by finding a small hole in the upper left corner of the net. Langerud was the man on the spot, taking control of the puck after two Windom players whiffed on it as it slowly rolled past them on the ice.
Windom Area found itself in a great position to score with 1:33 remaining in the second period while on a 5-on-3 power play. But the Trojans were able to keep the Eagles out of their net.
Nienkerk said halting that power play might have been the key to victory.
“That 5-on-3 probably ends up being the biggest part of the game. To kill that off, that could have been a big momentum swing,” he said.
With barely more than three minutes gone in the third period, Worthington added to its lead as Ian Bumgardner found net on an assist from Ahrenstorff.
The sixth goal electrified the large and vocal student section. Many of them tossed their hats onto the ice and cheered wildly for Langerud, who will probably remember his hat trick for a good long while.
“That’s awesome. Last home game. That’s pretty awesome to finish it out that way,” he said.
And as for the hats:
“That was pretty dang cool,” he gushed. “If you looked over at me on the bench you could see a big smile on my face.”
Windom Area 1 0 0 -- 1
Worthington 1 3 2 -- 6