FAIRMONT - The New Ulm Eagles boys hockey team needed just 19 seconds to score its first goal. With 3:12 left in the game, the Eagles capped their 9-1 South Central Conference victory over the Fairmont Area Cardinals on Thursday at Martin County Arena.
In between those two goals, the Eagles managed seven other scores, but were challenged by an energized Cardinal squad coming off its first win of the season.
"I thought that we skated pretty decently today. We had some good chances and opportunties," said Fairmont Area head coach Brady Meyer.
CROSSING STICKS — Fairmont Area’s Rodney Engstrom (right) and New Ulm’s Jon Kopacek (middle) cross sticks while chasing after the puck during South Central Conference hockey action Thursday night at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Josh Wills (left) looks on. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Eagle center Wyatt Peterson caught a pass into the Cardinal zone from Alex Sellner, spun and gained control before sliding a pass to Brandon Helget.
Helget sped down the slot and caught Peterson's pass, firing it past the Fairmont Area netminder Colton Cunning just 19 seconds into the game.
"With a goal like that, they moved the puck so fast as a goaltender, you have to be lucky to be in the right place to block that shot," said Meyer.
Peterson then capitalized on a rebound a little more than 3 minutes later to give the Eagles a 2-0 advantage.
Peterson fired a pass to Judd Davis, who sent a shot toward Cunning in the crease, but Peterson was there for the rebound off the Cardinal goalie's leg pad and flipped a backhander top shelf for the score.
A minute and a half later, Jon Kopacek fired an Ethan Kraus assist into the net for a 3-0 lead for New Ulm.
The rest of the period the Cardinals responded, firing six shots on net, including a scoring opportunity for Matt Lytle.
Lytle picked up a loose puck at the Eagles' blue line with 5 minutes left in the first period to give Fairmont Area its first scoring chance.
With a New Ulm defender pestering Lytle, the junior captain fired a shot as he fell to the ice.
Eagle goalie Brach Kraus batted Lytle's shot into the air, with the rebound nearly falling behind him before the Cardinals could score.
"Tonight's outcome was not because of a lack of effort," said Meyer. "I think that our win this weekend really gave the guys a boost of energy and some confidence going into the game."
As the first period wound down, the Eagles had a chance to add another tally, but Cunning - who made 52 saves on the night - denied solid scoring efforts.
Peterson carried the puck into the Cardinals' zone, before stick handling and firing a quick shot. Cunning stuck his leg out, sliding to his right to make the save, before laying out to block the rebound.
A third shot coming from the point also was denied, with Cunning knocking down the shot. Fairmont Area defender Greg Claeys cleared the puck and kept New Ulm off the board for the period.
"I thought that Colton really had a great game for us tonight," said Meyer. "Those goals early on were tough shots, and with such a good team they fired a couple perfect shots past him and quite a few goals were scored on rebounds."
New Ulm added a pair of goals early in the second before the Cardinals were able to get on the board.
Peterson scored his second goal of the game, blasting a rebound off a Dylan Klein shot into the net.
Cunning nearly had another save on another Peterson shot, but Helget crashed the net and pushed the puck in for a 5-0 advantage with 9:43 left in the second.
The Cardinals, who fired 18 shots on net, managed to cash one in at the 8:06 mark.
Fairmont Area maintained puck control in the Eagle zone, and Ethan Lubenow caught a rebounded shot in front of the net.
Lubenow gained control and quickly flipped a backhanded shot into the top of the net to make it 5-1.
Lytle had a pair of scoring attempts later in the game, with two breakaway shots, but Kraus stopped them en route to 17 saves.
Rodney Engstrom drove his way through the Eagle defenders as the final minute of play ticked away and blasted a shot on net for the Cardinals, but Kraus was there for another save.
Fairmont Area (1-7, 0-3 SCC) plays host to Redwood Valley at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Martin County Arena.
New Ulm (7-4) travels to Delano on Saturday.
New Ulm 3-3-3-9
NU - Brandon Helget (Wyatt Peterson, Alex Sellner), 16:41.
NU - Wyatt Peterson (Judd Davis, Brandon Helget), 13:28.
NU - Jon Kopacek (Ethan Kraus), 12:00.
NU - Wyatt Peterson (Dylan Klein), 11:48.
NU - Brandon Helget (Wyatt Peterson, Alex Stark), 9:43.
FA - Ethan Lubenow (unassisted), 8:06.
NU - Jon Kopacek (unassisted), 1:35.
NU - Judd Davis (unassisted), 11:46.
NU - Brandon Helget (Wyatt Peterson), 11:26.
NU - Ethan Kraus (unassisted), 3:12.
Shots on goal: New Ulm 20-25-16-61; Fairmont Area 6-6-6-18.
Saves: Colton Cunning (FA) 17-22-13-52; Brach Kraus (NU) 6-5-6-17.
Penalties: Fairmont Area 1 for 2 minutes; New Ulm 1 for 2 minutes.