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Late loss: Goal with 35.4 seconds remaining sinks Trojans 5-4 in boys hockey thriller

The New Ulm Eagles upended the Worthington boys hockey team with a late goal, ruining a spirited WHS effort

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New Ulm defenders Jack Albrecht (9), Dawson Kraus (10) and Jace Schaefer (2) move to stop a fast break from Worthington Trojans Jonner Honius (8) during a Monday night game At the Worthington Ice Arena.
New Ulm defenders Jack Albrecht (9), Dawson Kraus (10) and Jace Schaefer (2) move to stop a fast break from the Worthington Trojans Konner Honius (8) Monday night at the Worthington Ice Arena. Tim Middagh / The Globe
Tim Middagh / The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- The New Ulm Eagles broke a tie with the Worthington High School boys hockey team as 35.4 seconds remained in the game Monday night, overcoming a 4-3 deficit that the Trojans achieved just 16 seconds into the third period.

Boom. Then boom.

“We got ‘em in the first 30 seconds, and they got us in the last 30 seconds,” said senior forward Alec Langerud, whose assist to teammate Blake Luinenburg to start the final period rattled the rafters at the Worthington Ice Arena.

The loss, when it finally came -- just as suddenly and dramatically as when Luinenburg scored the go-ahead goal, was tough for the Trojans to take. The Eagles’ Braxten Hoffmann, a well-known scoring whiz, got the game-winner. From a teammate’s long pass just over the outstretched glove of a Trojan, the senior forward took control at the mid-stripe and skated unabated to the Worthington net. He flicked the puck into a small opening on the left side and the contest was all but over.

“Just a mistake there at the end. We can’t let Number 11 get behind us at any point in the game, but definitely not at that point in the game,” said WHS head coach Tyler Nienkerk.

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New Ulm entered the game with a 15-5 record to Worthington’s 8-8. In a Nov. 30 showdown between the two teams in New Ulm, the Eagles barely prevailed, 4-3. Worthington played a tough, physical game in the rematch before succumbing.

In the preceding girls game, New Ulm caught fire after being shut out in the first period and beat Worthington 9-0.

Boys

New Ulm 5, Worthington 4

The score tied 3-3 after two periods, Worthington began the third on fire. Right from the faceoff, Luinenburg received a pass skating hard on the left side of the New Ulm net and put the goal in the net in one motion after receiving a perfect pass from the right side by Langerud.

Luinenburg then skated to the other end of the ice and pumped his fist where a large, vocal WHS student section cheered.

“Alec gave me a perfect pass. I just got on the breakaway, beat the defender, shot it, and it went post in,” Luinenburg said.

Andrew Benson also was credited with an assist on the play.

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The go-ahead goal stood up for more than 12 minutes until New Ulm’s Austin Uecker tied it, assisted by Hoffmann. Shortly before overtime would have been needed, Hoffmann ended it all.

“It’s tough to lose a game like that, just one play away,” Luinenburg said. “Hopefully we get ‘em in the sections and have another chance at ‘em.”

It was a back-and-forth game all the way. Worthington opened the scoring early in the first period on a Blake Ahrenstorff shot assisted by Konner Honius. Hoffmann scored his first toal less than two minutes later, but Worthington took a 2-1 lead on a shot by Spenser Nickel through a crease on the right side.

After a goal by the Eagles’ Luke Stefffensmeier, Worthington’s Ian Bumgardner punched one in to make it 3-2. It became 3-3 with just 25 seconds remaining in the second period as Hoffmann outbattled the Trojans for the puck directly in front of the WHS goal.

The third period was fiercely contested.

“We had a lot of momentum to start out 16 seconds in,” said Nienkerk, “and we held it together for most of that period. But we’re going to have a lot of success in the rest of our games if we bring this much effort.”

New Ulm 1 2 2 -- 5

Worthington 2 1 1 -- 4

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Girls

New Ulm 9, Worthington 0

In the two teams’ first meeting this year, New Ulm thwarted Worthington 18-0. This time was much better, especially in the first period where the Trojans were out-shot 19-3 but kept the game scoreless thanks in large measure to junior goalkeeper Lillyana Newman.

New Ulm, however, outscored the home team 6-0 in the second period and 3-0 in the third.

Trojans Kessey Aljets (13) Persues New Ulm's Brooke Arneson as Eagles dive towards the net during a Monday evening game in Worthington.
The Worthington Trojans' Kessey Aljets (13) pursues New Ulm's Brooke Arneson as Eagle drives toward the net Monday.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Junior forward Brooke had three goals and sophomore forward Michelle Smith had two.

The Eagles advanced to 20-3 with the victory while dropping Worthington to 4-18.

“Our girls did a good job in the first period of definitely containing this team,” said head coach Chad Nickel. “Lillyana was doing a phenomenal job that first period. They’re the Number 1 team in the conference. My guess is they’ll be the Number 1 seed in the section, too.”

Nickel said that against a team like New Ulm, any rival team has got to bring as much intensity as it can muster. In the first period the Trojans’ intensity kept the game scoreless, though they couldn’t hold on the rest of the way.

All told, New Ulm attempted 56 shots to Worthington’s eight.

“We were having a hard time getting the puck out of our zone. They (New Ulm) read and they crash those. They’re a very good team, and they’re able to read that stuff,” Nickel said.

New Ulm 0 6 3 -- 9

Worthington 0 0 0 -- 0

Related Topics: WORTHINGTON TROJANS
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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