Redwood Valley ices Fairmont Area in BSC boys tilt

LEAPING STOP — Fairmont Area’s Tyler Head leaps and stretches to stop the puck as Redwood Valley’s Cameran Sommers (14) and Dallas Coons (16) try to hem him in during non-league hockey action Saturday in Fairmont. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

FAIRMONT — Bailey Sommers, Connor Nelson and Hunter Tholkes combined to produced 11 points in the Redwood Valley Cardinals’ 8-2 Big South Conference win over the Fairmont Area Cardinals boys hockey team Saturday at Martin County Arena in Fairmont.

“Their work ethic is huge,” said Redwood Valley head coach Joe Stremcha, who added that the trio have been perfecting their chemistry with one another since last season.

It showed from the beginning of the game as Bailey Sommers scored on an assist from Tholkes at the 15:50 mark of the opening period. Five minutes later, Nelson made good on senior defender Jack Ryan’s assist for a power-play goal and a 2-1 lead.

“We’ve been struggling with power plays during the first half of the season, so it’s been good to see the last two games getting back on the board with a power play,” Stremcha said.

The hometown Cardinals narrowed Redwood Valley’s lead to one when Tom Havnen swiped in a goal with 8:54 remaining in the frame. Bryan Karp provided the feed on the score.

Before the period ended, Nelson, who finished with a hat trick, used one of Bailey Sommers’ assists to put the visiting Cardinals up, 3-1.

Sommers tried for a shot in the second period, but Fairmont Area goalie Colby Kuhl rejected the shot. Tholkes was in the area, though, and flipped in the goal with 11:04 to go in the period. Sommers and Tholkes then reversed roles as Tholkes provided Sommers with an assist at the 5:40 mark.

Senior forward Tyler Head helped Fairmont Area avoid the period shutout by scoring with 4:39 to go. Senior defender Kaylan Legred passed to Head, who took a shot. The puck bounced off of goalie Alex Barnes’ leg and into the goal for a 5-2 score.

Less than a minute later, Kaleb Johnson stole the puck away from Fairmont Area, broke down the ice and scored for a 6-2 Redwood Valley lead after two periods.

“We made too many mistakes. With their top line, they just capitalized on every mistake that we made,” Fairmont Area head coach Kris Olson said. “We played a tough game. It was just mistakes.”

Redwood Valley netted two more goals in the final period to leave Fairmont with a six-goal victory.

Senior forward Dallas Coons gave an assist to junior forward TJ Crews, who scored at the 9:21 mark of the third frame. Seven minutes later, Nelson scored his third goal by using one of Tholkes’ three assists to put the game away.

“We’re coming into a good grove with the new year, and the guys are playing well as a team,” Stremcha said. “The lineups seem to be working well for us. We’re definitely seeing some production from our top guys.”

Redwood Valley (8-5) plays at New Ulm on Tuesday night in another conference game.

Fairmont Area (3-10) enters a three-game stretch this week, starting with Luverne on Tuesday, followed by Worthington on Thursday and Morris/Benson Area on Saturday.

Redwood Valley       3-3-2–8

Fairmont Area          1-1-0–2

Scoring Plays

1st Period

RV — Bailey Sommers (Hunter Tholkes), 15:50.

RV — Connor Nelson (Jack Ryan), pp., 10:25.

FA — Tom Havnen (Bryan Karp), 8:54.

RV — Nelson (Sommers), 5:51.

2nd Period

RV — Tholkes (Sommers), 11:04.

RV — Sommers (Tholkes), 5:40.

FA — Tyler Head (Kaylan Legred), 4:39.

RV — Kaleb Johnson (unassisted), 4:12.

3rd Period

RV — TJ Crews (Dallas Coons), 9:21.

RV — Nelson (Tholkes), pp., 2:32.

Shots on goal: Redwood Valley 15-18-8–41; Fairmont Area 10-6-7–23.

Saves: Colby Kuhl (FA) 12-15-6–33; Alex Barnes (RV) 9-5-7–21.

Penalties: Fairmont Area 4 for 8 minutes; Redwood Valley 3 for 6 minutes.

Power-play chances: Redwood Valley 2-for-4; Fairmont Area 0-for-3.