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North Stars glide by Cardinals, 12-2

CONVERGING — Fairmont Area’s Dayton Draper (middle) maintains control of the puck while Prairie Centre teammates Dylan Gruenes (left) and Keegan Christians converge on the play during non-league hockey action Saturday at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Area boys hockey team lost 12-2 to Prairie Centre Area at Martin County Arena on Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinals came into their third game in as many days a bit sluggish and the North Stars took advantage, jumping out to an early lead that they would hold for the duration of the game.

At the 14:24 mark in the first period, North Stars junior forward Demario Lopez streaked up the ice and found the back of the net unassisted to get the scoring started.

Shortly thereafter, Cardinals senior forward and captain Luke Kester tried to answer. Finding his way into the open ice on a counter-attack, Kester had a one-on-one crack at the keeper but couldn’t convert.

Three more goals to finish the first period would give the North Stars a comfortable 4-0 lead entering the second period.

Cardinals head coach Dylan VanBrocklin could tell his team’s mentality shifted a bit entering the second.

“We didn’t make any changes line-wise or anything,” VanBrocklin said. “The guys just decided to start playing, it was that simple. You know at the beginning we weren’t forechecking and we were playing a little scared, but we talked with them about it and they turned it around.”

As the second period got underway, it looked like things wouldn’t change as the North Stars scored twice more on goals from senior forward Zachary Bick and sophomore forward James Rieland. The Cardinals, however, found themselves offensively halfway through the period.

With 9:17 remaining in the second, Luke Kester scored to cut the lead to 7-1. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, every time they scored, the North Stars answered.

Just six seconds after Kester’s goal, North Stars sophomore forward Derek Lopez retaliated with one of his own. During the scoring attempt, Cardinals senior goalkeeper Carson Johnson was hit and suffered an injury.

Johnson tried to play through the pain, but a few minutes later the Cardinals elected to pull him and get sophomore Brandon Hector some ice time.

“They (North Stars) had put up quite a few goals, so that was part of it,” VanBrocklin said. “But definitely when we pulled Carson it was because of his groin/hip, because when he was skating to the bench you could definitely tell that he couldn’t push off it.”

With 8:45 remaining in the second period, Cardinals senior forward Tyson Pankow found the back of the net off an assist from senior forward Lucas Sommers to trim the score to 8-2.

But the momentum didn’t last long, as five minutes later the North Stars’ dyanmic duo of James Rieland and Zachary Bick were back on the hunt. The two forwards connected to score the North Stars’ ninth goal and the team never looked back.

As the Cardinals season goes on, they will be looking to put it all together in order to find success.

“Like I said at the beginning of the year, we just have to figure out how to put in max effort all three periods with every shift doing that, and we can have way different games,” VanBrocklin said.

Fairmont Area (0-4) travels to Faribault tonight for a non-league game, while Prairie Centre Area (2-1) takes on Wadena-Deer Creek on the road tonight.

PCA      4 6 2 — 12

FA         0 2 0 —  2

Scoring Plays

1st Period

PCA–Demario Lopez (unassisted), 14:24.

PCA–Hagen Brunkhorst (Eli Warring), 11:16.

PCA–James Rieland (unassisted), SH., 9:43.

PCA–Leyton Fuchs (Asher Cebulla), 7:29.

2nd Period

PCA–Zachary Bick (James Rieland), SH., 12:07.

PCA–James Rieland (Zachary Bick), 10:10.

PCA–Jesse Williams (Aiken Lambrecht), 9:50.

FA–Luke Kester (unassisted), 9:17.

PCA–Derek Lopez (unassisted), 9:11.

FA–Tyson Pankow (Lucas Sommers), PP., 8:45.

PCA–Zachary Bick (James Rieland), 3:05.

PCA–Jesse Williams (Derek Lopez), 0:01.

3rd Period

PCA–Asher Cebulla (Demario Lopez), 15:57.

PCA–Zachary Bick (James Rieland), 1:00.

Shots on goal: PCA 15-13-8–36; FA 6-11-0–17.

Saves: Carson Johnson (FA) 16; Brandon Hector (FA) 8; Carter Holman (PCA) 15.

Penalties: FA 5 for 16 minutes; PCA 6 for 12 minutes.

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