Granite City takes West-Division contest over Alexandria

Granite City takes West-Division contest over Alexandria Blizzard

 

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Dallas Duckson
Dallas Duckson

The Alexandria Blizzard dropped a 5-1 game to Granite City on Friday night before heading to Blaine on Sunday for a three-day showcase event.

Granite City outshot Alexandria 36-25 and used a three-goal second period to open up the game. Blake Spetz led the way with a hat trick, while Josh Baker and Cody Dias each added goals for the Lumberjacks.

Granite City built a 5-0 advantage before Dallas Duckson scored the Blizzard’s only goal of the night in the third period. He was assisted by Brandon Connett and Austin McNeil.

Bailey Rosch took the loss for Alexandria. He allowed the five goals around 31 saves. Bailey Huber got the win for Granite City with 24 saves and just the one goal allowed.

The Lumberjacks are 18-4 with 36 points in the West Division standings. That’s good for second place in the division behind North Iowa (20-3-2, 42 points). The Blizzard are currently fourth in those standings with 23 points and a 10-8-2-1 overall record.

Bulls dominate Blizzard to snap unbeaten streak

Bulls dominate Blizzard to snap unbeaten streak

 

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Wyatt Blahosky keeps the puck in the zone during the Blizzard's 10-0 loss to North Iowa on Friday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Wyatt Blahosky keeps the puck in the zone during the Blizzard’s 10-0 loss to North Iowa on Friday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

The Alexandria Blizzard hadn’t played a game in nearly two weeks heading into Friday night’s matchup against the North Iowa Bulls at the Runestone Community Center.

The Blizzard had earned points in each of its last nine games. That was until the Bulls ran away with a 10-0 win in the first half of a home-and-home series.

“We had two breakdowns in the first period that led to both goals,” head coach Jeff Crouse said. “The shots were even at 14, but we trailed 3-0. Then it just snowballed from there.”

The Bulls sit at the top of the West Division with a record of 19-3-2-0. They hold an eight-point advantage over second-place Granite City and are 17 points ahead of Alexandria. On Friday night, the Bulls proved why they are one of the best teams in the NA3HL.

Sota Isogai and Matt Dahlseide each scored two goals. Former Northstar Christian Academy Knight, Jackson Vercellono, had a goal and an assist.

After the Bulls scored five second-period goals, the Blizzard trailed 8-0.

“I told the guys that we needed to get some momentum going after the second so we can feel good heading into (Saturday). We didn’t do that,” Crouse said. “The goalies weren’t stopping shots, and we didn’t do anything to help them. (North Iowa) is playing well right now. There’s a reason why they are leading the division by a large margin.”

Dysen Skinner has been a thorn in the side of the Blizzard over the last two seasons. The Blizzard mustered up chances to score early on, but Skinner kept them off the score sheet. He made 30 saves in the shutout.

Brandon Connett brings the puck into the offensive zone during the Blizzard's 10-0 loss to North Iowa on Friday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Brandon Connett brings the puck into the offensive zone during the Blizzard’s 10-0 loss to North Iowa on Friday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Bailey Rosch started in net for Alexandria before being pulled midway through the second period after the fourth goal. Ville Hyttinen allowed the remaining six on 28 shots.

The Blizzard is looking to put its forgettable performance in the past before Saturday night’s road game in North Iowa. Crouse is excited to get another crack at the top dog in the division.

“I’m glad we get to see them again because we need to figure out how to beat them,” he said. “The last time we were down there, we had some success in taking them to overtime. We have to put the hard hats on and go back to work.”

The night before Thanksgiving, the Blizzard was scheduled to host New Ulm (9-7-2-1). Inclimate weather postponed the game to a future date. Crouse believes that the extended time off led to the slow start.

“It’s not easy to come back and play a game against a top team after almost two weeks,” he said. “I thought we practiced well, but they came out faster and stronger than us. They were playing games against good teams. It’s how the schedule worked out, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

The Blizzard welcomed two new players to its roster on Friday. Coincidentally, they came from North Iowa. Evan Sivets and Austin McNeil look to be a factor for the Blizzard moving forward.

“I’m happy with the transaction we made,” Crouse said. “There are some chemistry things we need to iron out, but I think they fit in well with these guys.”

Forgettable nights happen for every hockey team. Crouse hopes his guys can move on from this game and get to work on a new point streak.

“It just happens,” he said. “Does it suck? Yeah, it does. Give credit to them. They came out hard in our building and took it to us. We’ll regroup and get after it tomorrow.”

 

Blizzard take down North Stars and WarHawks

Blizzard win division battle against WarHawks

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Ike Taraszewski carries the puck in on a breakaway during the Alexandria Blizzard's win over the Willmar WarHawks at the Runestone Community Center on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Ike Taraszewski carries the puck in on a breakaway during the Alexandria Blizzard’s win over the Willmar WarHawks at the Runestone Community Center on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

After a slow start, the Alexandria Blizzard found a way to beat Willmar’s goaltender Lukas Haugen and win its second game of the weekend.

After five straight weekend splits, the Blizzard finally broke through and won both home games on Friday and Saturday. Alexandria beat Willmar 3-1 in a West Division battle.

“The good thing about our splits was we were getting three points in our losses because we lost in overtime,” head coach Jeff Crouse said. “I told them that this is the weekend we need to start to get things rolling at home. We want to make the (Runestone Community Center) a place where people know they’re in for a tough night. This was a step in the right direction.”

Dallas Duckson navigates his way around a defender during the Alexandria Blizzard's win over the Willmar WarHawks at the Runestone Community Center on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Dallas Duckson navigates his way around a defender during the Alexandria Blizzard’s win over the Willmar WarHawks at the Runestone Community Center on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

The WarHawks controlled the game for a majority of the third period after Dallas Duckson went to the box for a double-minor high sticking penalty.

“We spent six minutes in the first period on the penalty kill,” Crouse said. “I thought our kill was fine, but it’s hard to get the chances you want. I thought we got going at the end of the period, which carried over into the second.”

Just after the halfway point of the game, Chayse Haberman scored to give the Blizzard a 1-0 lead. Alexandria kept pushing the pace but was unable to crack Haugen before the period ended.

Early in the third, Alex Heidenreich doubled the Blizzard’s lead.

“I hadn’t scored in a while. It felt good to get that monkey off my back,” Heidenreich said.

Jake Santarelli cut Alexandria’s lead in half midway with just over 10 minutes remaining. However, Blizzard goaltender Ville Hyttinen made his presence known by shutting the door the rest of the game. He finished his night with 34 saves.

“He’s been a wall back there,” Heidenreich said. “It gives us more confidence when we have guys play like that. We can pinch and play more aggressive, and feel confident about that.”

Alexndria forward Carter Rieland shares a laugh with his Willmar counterpart at a faceoff in the first period during the Blizzard's win over the WarHawks on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Alexndria forward Carter Rieland shares a laugh with his Willmar counterpart at a faceoff in the first period during the Blizzard’s win over the WarHawks on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Dylan Carlson buried an insurance goal with under two minutes remaining to clinch the win. Alexandria is 10-5-2-1 and third in the division. Willmar is currently in fifth with an 8-8-1-1 record.

One of the challenges that the Blizzard has to face is the loss of some top players. With the Alexandria high school hockey season starting, guys like Caleb Strong, Joe Westlund and Joe Gronholz won’t be in the lineup.

“Compared to years past, these guys that fill the holes for the high school kids have already seen some playing time,” Crouse said. “It goes to show how much depth we have as a team this year. You look at the guys that scored tonight, and all of them have played on the third or fourth line at some point. We use four lines more than any other team in our division.”

Willmar is a team that is looking to steal one of the four playoff spots out of the West. To do that, they will rely on Haugen to play like he has been all season.

Mathias Branton plays the puck out of the corner during the Alexandria Blizzard's win over the Willmar WarHawks at the Runestone Community Center on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Mathias Branton plays the puck out of the corner during the Alexandria Blizzard’s win over the Willmar WarHawks at the Runestone Community Center on Saturday night. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

“He made a lot of really good saves tonight,” Crouse said. “He’s the guy that beat us earlier this year and has kept them in a lot of games. They’re a talented team that’s going to make this division a lot more interesting.”

On Friday night, the Blizzard beat the Breezy Point North Stars (4-16-1-0) 7-3 at the RCC. Alexandria is on a three-game win streak heading into two more divisional games next weekend against New Ulm (8-5-2-1) and North Iowa (17-3-1-0).

“It’s a long season, but we need to take advantage of when we can play at home,” Heidenreich said. “We’ll have a good week of practice and try to come out with two more wins next weekend.”

WILLMAR 0 0 1 – 1

ALEXANDRIA 0 1 2 – 3

SCORING- SECOND PERIOD- Alexandria- Chayse Haberman (Michal Trejbal, Kobe Kitagawa) 9:52; THIRD PERIOD- Alexandria- Alex Heidenreich (Brandon Connett, Jack Taylor) 1:42 Willmar- Jake Santarelli (unassisted) 9:33; Alexandria – Dylan Carlson (Cole Jacobs) 18:43; PENALTIES- Alexandria- 6 minutes on 3 infractions; Willmar- 4 minutes on 2 infractions; GOALTENDING- Alexandria- Ville Hyttinen, W, 34 saves, 1 goal allowed; Willmar- Lukas Haugen, L, 35 saves, 3 goals allowed

Blizzard land 3pts on the weekend split with Chill

Blizzard hold off Chill for weekend split

 

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Kobe Kitagawa
Kobe Kitagawa

The Alexandria Blizzard almost saw its 3-0 lead erased by the Coulee Region Chill on Saturday in La Crosse, WI.

After falling 3-2 overtime on Friday night, the Blizzard’s fast start propelled them to a 4-3 win.

Dylan Carlson started the scoring with assists from Brandon Connett and Michal Trejbal midway through the first period. Connett made it a 2-0 game with under three minutes before the intermission.

Cole Jacobs found the back of the net early in the second period with assists from Carlson and Carter Rieland. It looked as if the Blizzard were going to run away with things before the Chill answered.

Marco Escobar cut Alexandria’s lead to two before Christopher Gilbert made it a one-goal game midway through the second.

With 47 seconds left in the period, Kobe Kitagawa scored what would be the game-winning goal. Connett had this third point of the game with an assist.

The Chill found some life late in the third with Escobar’s third goal, but could not get a fourth as the Blizzard took home a weekend split.

Ville Hyttinen had 27 saves in net. He continues to have a good season with a 4-3-0-1 record, a 3.12 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.

With his three-point night, Connett leads the Blizzard with 27 points in 16 games played. He is the only member of the Blizzard with more than seven goals at 14. Caleb Strong and Dallas Duckson both have 21 points on the year.

The Blizzard sit in third place in the West Division standings with 19 points (8-5-2-1). The Chill is in second place in the Central Division with 24 points. (12-6-0-0).

Alexandria is back at home for the first time in seven games this weekend. The take on the Breezy Point North Stars (3-15-1-0) on Friday and the Willmar Warhawks (8-7-1-1) on Saturday.

ALEXANDRIA 2 2 0 – 4

COULEE REGION 0 2 1 – 3 (SATURDAY)

SCORING- FIRST PERIOD- Alexandria- Dylan Carlson (Brandon Connett, Michal Trejbal) 7:43; Alexandria- Connett (Trejbal) power play, 17:42; SECOND PERIOD- Cole Jacobs (Carlson, Carter Rieland) 3:30; Coulee Region- Marco Escobar (Liam Farrell, Gijs De Schepper) short handed, 12:09; Christopher Gilbert (Joey Wiczek) 17:01; Alexandria- Kobe Kitagawa (Connett, Val Popowski) 19:31; Coulee Region- Escobar (Jacob Best, Sam VanderHoven) 17:12;

PENALTIES- Alexandria- 22 minutes on 7 infractions; Coulee Region- 10 minutes on 5 infractions;

GOALTENDING- Alexandria- Ville Hyttinen, W, 27 saves, 3 goals allowed; Coulee Region- Devin Naidow, L 32 saves, 4 goals allowed;

ALEXANDRIA 2 0 0 – 0 – 2 (FRIDAY)

COULEE REGION 2 0 0 – 1 – 3

SCORING- FIRST PERIOD- Alexandria- Trejbal (unassisted) 2:11; Coulee Region- Escobar (De Schepper) 4:40; Coulee Region- Flavien Fondadouse (Parker Severson, Escobar) power play, 10:43; Alexandria- Carlson (Rieland, Jacobs) 12:53; OVERTIME- Coulee Region- Best (Severson, Fondadouze) power play, 3:43;

PENALTIES- Alexandria- 6 minutes on 3 infractions; Coulee Region- 4 minutes on 2 infractions;

GOALTENDING- Alexandria- Hyttinen, OTL, 31 saves, 3 goals allowed; Coulee Region- Michael Janke, W, 29 saves, 2 goals allowed

2019 NA3HL Showcase 1 month away

2019 NA3HL Showcase less than a month away

NOVEMBER 18, 2019

The 2019 North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) Showcase, which will take place from December 15-17, 2019 at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota, begins in less than a month. This season marks the 10th straight year the NA3HL will hold a league-wide Showcase, which features some of the best junior talent in the United States. The event will be played in cooperation with the sixth NAPHL event of the season, which will take place from December 13-16, 2019, at the Super Rink and includes the NAPHL 16U and 18U All-Star games on Sunday, December 15th.
All NA3HL teams will play three regular-season games at the Showcase, which is annually one of the most well-attended and scouted events of the entire season for the league, attracting college and junior scouts alike. The NA3HL Showcase brings every NA3HL team under one roof, which allows scouts to see all the great talent the league has to offer. Not only does the showcase see a large presence of NCAA scouts but NAHL Central Scouting is also in attendance, furthering the chances for players to earn a call up to the NAHL.
The 2019 NA3HL Showcase schedule will be released on Monday, November 25th and will pair up evenly matched teams against one another based on the current standings and is also designed to have cross-divisional games with balanced competition.
The NA3HL is in its 10th anniversary season in 2019-20 and serves as one of the top training grounds in the country by providing the best coaching, exposure and developmental vehicles available for student-athletes in Tier III junior hockey. It is one of only two USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III junior leagues. No other league has had more movement and advanced more players onto play in the NAHL than the NA3HL. Thanks to additional and enhanced initiatives that were put in place this past season in cooperation with the NAHL, more players from the NA3HL play, practice, and earn NCAA Division I scholarships with the NAHL than any other league. To begin the 2019-20 season the NA3HL had over 40+ alumni listed on NAHL rosters. Earlier this summer, not only did 26 NA3HL players sign a tender to play in the NAHL for the 2019-20 season, but 26 more players were selected in the 2019 NAHL Draft.
“Every year, the NA3HL Showcase gets bigger and better, and 2019 will be no exception. This event is all about the opportunity for the players and the timing works out well for all of the college and NAHL scouts and coaches to attend. The record number of advancement of NA3HL players to the NAHL is a direct result of the unique relationship the two leagues share and the exposure players are getting at NA3HL events like the Showcase,” said NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld.
For more details on the 2019 NA3HL Showcase, including ticket, hotel, rental car, scouting and schedule information, visit: na3hl.com/showcase. All the games at the NA3HL Showcase will be broadcast live and in HD on HockeyTV.
Scouts will receive complimentary admission to the NA3HL Showcase. Proper identification and team/league affiliation must be presented at the admission counter in order to receive a scout pass. Scout packet includes a pass for entrance into the Super Rink for all three days of the event, access to the scout room, which will include catered food and beverage throughout the event, a tournament program, scout gift, and line charts for each game.
Another benefit of the NA3HL’s direct relationship with the NAHL is the presence of NAHL Central Scouting. A team of dedicated and knowledgeable scouts will be on hand at the Showcase evaluating NA3HL players in a true unbiased manner. That information on all players is then organized and provided to NAHL teams and college coaches. In a system that no other junior league in the United States has, individual player scouting profiles are then uploaded into the Rink Net database, the same service used by NCAA and NHL teams. NAHL Central Scouting is lead by Tony Zasowski, Director of Player of Personnel for the NAHL, NA3HL and NAPHL. His primary role is to coordinate the scouting at all events, and to promote player advancement and to supply information to NAHL, NCAA and other junior and collegiate coaches.
As an additional element to the program this season, an NCAA education and compliance seminar will be presented to all players, coaches and parents during the NA3HL Showcase. This will be the same presentation used in NAHL seminars and the focus will be on differences between NCAA Division I, Division III and ACHA, the breakdown of NCAA I conference landscape, NCAA Initial Eligibility information including important new rules going into effect this season and how future players will be affected, the recruiting process and how to market yourself.
The Super Rink is the largest ice arena of its kind in the world. The state-of-the-art facility, a $21 million project totaling over 300,000 square feet, features eight sheets of ice under one roof.