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Cardinals rally to win in VanBrocklin’s head hockey coaching debut

DEFENSIVE WALL — Fairmont Area goaltender Carsen Musser (back left) peers around a wall created by teammates Carter Olson (15) and Alex Reutzel (7) as Morris/Benson Area’s Brady Goff (20) unleashes a shot during hockey action Saturday at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Dylan VanBrocklin’s head coaching career has started on a high note.

The Fairmont Area boys hockey team scored four unanswered goals to take a 4-3 comeback win over the Morris/Benson Area Storm on Saturday at Martin County Arena.

Down 3-0 midway through the second period, the comeback began.

Jacob Becker scored his first varsity goal and the first goal of the Cardinals’ season with 10:43 left in the middle segment.

Brycen Lutterman shot the puck into the left side of the netting, collected the rebound and passed it directly in front of the net. Becker collected the pass and wristed the puck into the right side to get the Cardinals on the board.

With 2:04 left before the second intermission, Carson Kuhl got Fairmont Area within one. Eli Anderson missed a shot high, grabbed his own rebound off the boards and passed to Kuhl waiting in front of the net. Kuhl fought through multiple blocks from Storm goalie Brady Backman, but Kuhl got the puck past Backman and into the bottom left corner of the net.

VanBrocklin said the Cardinals rolled with the momentum after Becker got them on the board.

“I just told them not to give up,” VanBrocklin said. “We were getting chances (in the first period), they just weren’t going in. We were doing the right things, we just weren’t getting the bounce or putting it in the right place. … They got that first one, got a little energy and kept going.”

Anderson hit the equalizer with 10:26 left in regulation.

Kuhl collected the puck near the crowd-side boards at mid-ice, then threaded a pass between three Storm defenders to Anderson sprinting down the ice. Anderson took the one-on-one chance with Backman and fired the puck upper shelf on the left side of the goal to tie the game.

Fairmont then took advantage of a power-play chance to go ahead.

Reece Kuseske received a 2-minute minor for the Storm and off the ensuing faceoff, Anderson got the puck to Kuhl, who tapped it to Hudson Artz. Artz blasted a shot into the right side of the net to give the Cardinals their first lead of the season.

The Storm had chances to tie, including an opportunity with a pulled goalie and 20 seconds left, but Fairmont Area goalie Carsen Musser held his own in his first varsity start.

Musser totalled 40 saves to net the win.

“The first two goals, we left a guy out front, not much he (Musser) could have done for that, those were defensive breakdowns,” VanBrocklin said. “I was impressed, I think he did great.”

MBA scored twice in the first period to take an early lead.

Zach Bruns got the first goal on the scoreboard at the 9:48 mark when he collected the rebound of a Brady Goff shot and sent the puck into the bottom left corner of the net on a Storm power-play opportunity.

Tim Blume then scored for MBA when he connected on a one-timer off a pass from Bruns. Bruns circled the net before connecting with Blume, who was waiting just outside the crease.

Matthew Tolifson scored the Storm’s final goal on a wraparound shot with 16:14 left in the second period.

The Cardinals haven’t opened 1-0 since the 2009-10 season when they beat Luverne 7-5 on Dec. 1. They didn’t earn their first win of the 2018-19 season until Jan. 10 — 13 games into the year.

Fairmont Area (1-0) travels to Blue Mound Ice Arena to take on Luverne in a 7:30 p.m. matchup Tuesday. MBA (0-1) plays host to Wadena-Deer Creek at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

MBA 2-1-0–3

FA 0-2-2–4

Scoring Plays

1st Period

MBA–Zach Bruns (Brady Goff), 9:48.

MBA–Tim Blume (Zach Bruns), 8:24.

2nd Period

MBA–Matthew Tolifson (unassisted), 16:14.

FA–Jacob Becker (Brycen Lutterman), 10:43.

FA–Carson Kuhl (Eli Anderson), 2:04.

3rd Period

FA–Eli Anderson (Carson Kuhl), 10:26.

FA–Hudson Artz (Carson Kuhl, Eli Anderson), 4:30.

Shots on goal: Morris/Benson Area 15-16-12–43; Fairmont Area 6-8-9–23.

Saves: Carsen Musser (FA) 40; Brady Backman (MBA) 19.

Penalties: Morris/Benson Area 1 for 2 minutes; Fairmont Area 1 for 2 minutes.

Power-play chances: Morris/Benson Area 1-for-1; Fairmont Area 1-for-1.

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