New Ulm breezes by penalty-plagued Fairmont Area

STOLEN PRIZE — Fairmont Area’s Brock Lutterman (right) knocks the puck free from New Ulm’s Landon Barstad (18) during Big South Conference hockey action Tuesday night at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Ask Fairmont Area junior goalie Carson Johnson what he loves the most about being inside the net, he would tell you being the recipient of the power play.

Once again, penalties were the Cardinals’ own kryptonite in a 7-1 Big South Conference hockey loss to the New Ulm Eagles at the Martin County Arena in Fairmont on Tuesday night.

“I love being on the penalty kill. I see a lot of shots. I rather have them pound me with shots, especially against these guys (the Eagles), you really get moving. They pass the puck around a lot. They are really good pass catchers. They just really know what to do with the puck. They read the ice. They know where their guys are and where we are at,” Johnson said.

The Eagles converted on 3 of 10 power-play opportunities with 19 shots.

The Cardinals only had two unsuccessful power-play shots while being held to five shots.

Junior forward Bryer Lang scored goals 11 and 12 on his season to give the Eagles an early 2-0 advantage, with the first one courtesy off assists from Kaden Larson, Talan Helget and Blake Soukup.

Junior Connor Gronewald, who has been close to scoring his first goal of the year, finally came through to cut the Eagles’ lead in half at 2-1 with 2:58 left in the first period on the team’s fifth shot of the game.

Gronewald found the opening that he needed by putting the puck past three defenders who were battling at the line. Junior forward Lucas Sommers was credited with his third assist of the season.

“It was a pretty big goal. It gave us a momentum booster,” Gronewald said. “I saw a rebound. It went underneath the goalie, but wasn’t covered I just got the rebound. He (Sommers) got a great shot on the net. I was there at the right time. He came in hard with the puck and got the shot and I got the rebound.”

The second period continued to be a test for the power-play kill for the Cardinals. They were able to kill three of four attempts.

The Eagles mustered only one goal in the second period with 15 seconds left Johnson was cross-checked and senior forward Taylor Hansen just snuck the puck past Johnson on the team’s 35th shot of the game to extend the lead 4-1 with an assist from senior forward Nickolas Zins.In the second period the Cardinals may have been outshot 15-7, but in their seven opportunities, they had some good looks as sophomore goalie Graham Glaser made some key stops.

“They had good defense. They kept us to the outside so we couldn’t get into that high scoring chance. When we had the puck in the zone we had good pressure. We couldn’t get them out of position to get our guy open to get those good scoring chances,” Cardinals head coach Dylan VanBrocklin said.

The one word that would describe the third period would be “misconduct.” The Cardinals let the third period slip away with costly penalties that would take a toll.

“We definitely had a great night in the penalty kill tonight. We had 13 penalties. We had three 10-minute majors. Those kids sat out. There was 30 minutes we didn’t have someone on the bench. It definitely takes a toll. They did really well by keeping them to the outside blocking shots,” VanBrocklin said.

Johnson saved 42 shots, while Glaser snagged 16. Outside the box, however, from the puck drop and until the last whistle was a physical and contact game for both teams that some may say the Eagle were playing mind games with the Cardinals, using that to their advantage in the power play.

“Normally they play their skill game with not a whole contact. They came out physical. We want to play a skill game. We want to move the puck. We don’t like that contact. It was good on their part to get into our heads to play the body because it takes us away from our skill game,” VanBrocklin said. “I wouldn’t say it was the goals that beat us. Once they started thinking about the penalties and weather it should be a call or not it was over at that point. Rather then going out and thinking about that next shift for us trying to get that next goal.

“We were sitting there thinking oh am I going to get a penalty or why didn’t he get a penalty. You quit thinking about what you need to do and what you can do and then start thinking about stuff you can’t control.”

The Eagles (15-2-1) were able to score three more goals, using the Cardinals’ frustration to their advantage.

New Ulm has now won the last 39 consecutive games against the Cardinals, dating back to January 2006.

The Cardinals (4-11) will be on the road in Redwood Falls against Redwood Valley (0-15) on Friday at 7:30 p.m., hoping to snap a current five-game losing streak.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.65/week.

Subscribe Today