Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Hockey For Life Showcase - Day 3

Holy Family 3, Moorhead 2

A battle of top ten teams took place at the Dakotah! Ice Center as part of the final day of the Hockey for Life showcase put on by Youth Hockey Hub. The Holy Family Fire came into the game ranked number seven in the coaches' poll and Moorhead Spuds was ranked number eight. The Minn Puck power rankings had the Fire at number six and Moorhead at number nine. This was the one game I had circled as a must see in the showcase and first time seeing both teams in-person as opposed to online streaming. My Minn Puck colleague was excited about this Holy Family team, so I was anxious to see what they were about. Ben Almquist and Garrett Pinoniemi are the main scorers for the Fire. The Spuds have the explosive Carter Randklev, or "Randle", as the Moorhead faithful refer to him, and Jack Stetz. A solid crowd for a noon game was on hand to watch this marquee matchup.

The first period had no scoring with the two teams playing pretty evenly, although I gave Moorhead the slight edge in terms of scoring opportunities. Holy Family's John Simon had a breakaway to break open the scoring, but was stopped by Lance Leonard.

Lance Leonard made 20 of 23 saves against Holy Family (Photo by Brianna Burnham)
John Simon had another chance to get Holy Family on the board in the second period on a snipe shot from just inside the blue line that ring off the crossbar. Isaac Henkemyer-Howe (which sounds like a law firm) got the first goal for Moorhead on a wrist shot that beat Holy Family goaltender Conan Hayton in the top corner. Moorhead had the better period again offensively, but could not muster any additional goals during the second session.

Conan Hayton in net for Holy Family stopping 29 of 31 shots (Photo by Brianna Burnham)
Based on the first two periods, it was looking as if Moorhead was going to leave the Twin Cities undefeated in the showcase, but the third period is when the star of the game came through. Brady Ziemer, the two-way defenseman for Holy Family, perhaps recognizable for this shoulder-length hair if not for his play, finally got the Fire's first goal on a shot off the faceoff that beat Leonard bottom corner. Ziemer, the first player that grabbed my attention defensively and offensively, would get his first of two assists on the next goal from Ben Hankinson to put the Fire in the lead, 2-1. The momentum that Moorhead carried was neutralized by Holy Family. Nolan Westra tied the game for the Spuds from shot at the right faceoff circle. With two minutes left to play, Holy Family got the game-winning goal on a rebound in front of the goal that was put in by Cole Wilson. Shots were registered in the arena as 31-23 in the Spuds favor, but MN Hockey Hub reported Moorhead with 32 shots to Holy Family's 27.

It was an entertaining game, and was the best game I have seen in person so far this season. These are the kind of games I enjoy - the 2-1, 3-2, or 4-3 affairs where you have some offense and defense. Both teams used the boards quite a bit to move the puck up ice and relied less on tape-to-tape passes. It was also another visit to an arena I have not been to before, and enjoyed the Dakotah Ice Center. It has an expansive lobby and the main rink has two floors for viewing the action.

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