FAIRMONT - The St. Peter/LeSueur-Henderson Bulldogs held a 3-0 lead through the first two periods, but a Fairmont Area goal early in the third looked to make it an interesting finish.
The Bulldogs, who went on to score four goals in the final 12 minutes of the South Central Conference game to take the 7-1 victory, dashed any hopes for a Cardinal comeback on Monday at Martin County Arena in Fairmont.
"I thought we played with them pretty well through the first two periods," said Fairmont Area head coach Brady Meyer. "The second period is usually our weakest, but we kept them to one goal and were only trailing 3-1 after our goal in the third."
PUSHING AHEAD — Fairmont Area’s Joe Nordquist (right) flips the puck ahead to Cardinal teammate Matt Lytle (11) during South Central Conference hockey action Monday night at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. St. Peter/Le Sueur-Henderson’s Sam Wenner (26) follows the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
The Bulldogs opened up the scoring at the 8:08 mark of the first period thanks to a goal off the stick of Sam Wenner.
Brett Zallek fired a shot towards Cardinal goalie Colton Cunning, who kicked the shot to the side, unfortunately for Fairmont Area, Wenner was there and flipped the rebound over Cunning for the goal.
C.J. Pavlo, who finished the game with five points for the Bulldogs, then doubled the visitors lead on an unassisted goal with three minutes left in the first.
Marty McGuire scored the Bulldogs lone goal in the second to stake the 3-0 lead through the first two frames.
McGuire blasted a shot from the point that found its way to the net with 12:57 left in the second.
"In the first two periods we did a good job of making them take most of their shots from the outside, and Colton was able to see the puck to make the save," said Meyer. "And shots were pretty even in the second so I thought we were getting some momentum."
The Cardinals capitalized on a strong second period to score just 27 seconds into the third.
Matt Lytle, who was setting a screen in front of Bulldog goaltender Killian Bixby, fired a shot off a rebound to make it a two-goal game.
Rodney Engstrom fired a shot from the blue line that Bixby stopped for one of his 24 saves, but with Lytle on the doorstep, he cranked home a shot for the score.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Bulldogs unleashed their offense in the final 12 minutes for four more goals to secure the win.
Isaac Westphal scored on a one-timer off assists from Avery Bachman and Pavlo on a power play 5:43 into the third.
Bachman sent a pass to Pavlo in the faceoff circle, and Pavol zipped a pass in front of the net to a waiting Westphal.
The Bulldogs then went ahead 5-1 when Alex Hoehn sent a pass behind the net to Wenner, who found Zallek for the quick shot and goal.
Pavlo then scored his second goal of the game to make it 6-1, catching a pass at mid-ice and scoring on the breakaway, snapping the top shelf with 3:34 left in the game.
Mac Malecha scored the final Bulldog goal with just five seconds on the clock, firing a Pavlo assist into the net to finalize the game at 7-1.
"Colton had a great game for us tonight, he stopped a lot of shots, and a bunch of their goals were tipped or he couldn't get a good look at them," said Meyer. "But for the first two period we did a good job of getting the puck out and not giving them second chances."
Cunning finished with 43 saves in the game, while the Cardinals fired 25 shots on goal.
The Bulldogs fired 50 shots on net and Bixby made 24 saves.
Fairmont Area (4-13, 0-4 SCC) travels to play a 7 p.m. nonconference game on Thursday in Windom.
St. Peter/LeSueuer-Henderson (11-7-2, 4-1 SCC) travels to play a South Central Conference game at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Waseca.
SPLSH - Sam Wenner (Brett Zallek), 8:52.
SPLSH - C.J. Pavlo (unassisted), 3:00.
SPLSH - Marty McGuire (unassisted), 12:57.
FA - Matt Lytle (Rodney Engstrom), 16:33.
SPLSH - Isaac Westphal (Avery Bachman, C.J. Pavlo), pp, 11:17.
SPLSH - Brett Zallek (Sam Wenner, Alex Hoehn), 8:06.
SPLSH - C.J. Pavlo (Isaac Westphal, Ryan Hoehn), 3:34.
SPLSH - Mac Malecha (C.J. Pavlo), 0:05.
Shots on goal: SPLSH 50; Fairmont Area 25.
Saves: Colton Cunning (FA) 43; Killian Bixby (SPLSH) 24.
Penalties: Fairmont Area 3 for 9 minutes; SPLSH 2 for 4 minutes.