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Funk fuels Team Southwest

By MN Hockey Hub staff, 09/09/12, 11:51AM CDT


Rochester Lourdes forward scores twice in 11 seconds in win over Colorado Rampage

Team Southwest's Alex Funk, right, celebrates a goal with linemate Bo Brauer of Edina. Photo by Helen Nelson

Southern Minnesota hasn’t been well represented in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League in recent years.
Matter of fact, it hasn’t been represented at all.
“There probably hasn’t been a player from down south since my brother and some other Lourdes players were in the league (in 2008),” said Alex Funk, referring to the Rochester Lourdes’ foursome of Taylor Funk, Cole Peterson, Tyler Voigt and Pete Spratte who played for Team Southeast in 2008.
Alex Funk, one of three Rochester Lourdes players who ended the long southern Minnesota dry spell this fall by cracking Elite League rosters, announced his presence with a bullhorn on Sunday when he scored two goals in an 11-second span in the third period and also notched a third-period assist as Team Southwest rallied to beat the Colorado Rampage.
Funk says he feels some pressure to prove players from the southern portion of the state belong with the Twin Cities and northern elite.
“There’s kind of been a little controversy about southern Minnesota guys,” he said. “We’re kind of setting people straight. Saying we can play down there.”

Team Southwest's Jason Samuelson (11) of Rochester Lourdes looks for a rebound in front of the Colorado Rampage net. Photo by Helen Nelson

Funk spent the weekend playing on a line with Lourdes buddy Jason Samuelson and Edina’s Bo Brauer. They were among Team Southwest’s most effective forward units on Sunday, combining for three goals and three assists in  the wild win over Colorado.
The third Lourdes player, defenseman Karl Krecke, sat out the weekend with an injury but is expected to return in the next week or two.
In a strange twist, all three Lourdes players landed on the Team Southwest roster after they were involved in a multi-player “trade” with Team Southeast. Eden Prairie’s Steven Spinner, Andrew Knudsen, Luc Snuggerud and Hunter Warner are among the Eagles’ contingent skating for Team Southeast.
“I can’t keep Eden Prairie players,” said Team Southwest assistant coach Steve Olinger, who is also an Eden Prairie assistant during the high school season. “Those were the guys I wanted, those Lourdes kids. Those were part of a package deal. We couldn’t be happier with those guys. They create quiet a spark.”
Team Southwest defenseman Jimmy Schuldt said he didn’t know what to think about the Lourdes players before skating with them.
“I hadn’t even heard about their school until now,” Schuldt said. “But I guess they are pretty good in Class A.”
Lourdes has made four straight state Class 1A state tournament appearances. And Schuldt will now attest to the quality of the Eagles’ players.
“How about the game Funk had today?” Schuldt said. “Those guys played great.”
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Holy Angels' Mario Bianchi new standard-bearer for Stars

Team Southwest's Mario Bianchi of Holy Angels steps into a Colorado Rampage player. Photo by Helen Nelson

Holy Angels used to be feared. 

Two-time champions, and a dominant program, up until 2010-12 the Stars won 141 Missota conference games in a row, 13 straight conference championships, and five state tournament appearances in a six year stretch.

Last year? Well…not so much.

The squad from Richfield went 10-13-1 and lost to Prior Lake in the first round of the Section 2AA playoffs.

Led by forward Mario Bianchi who scored twice in Team Southwest’s 8-5 win over the Colorado Rampage on Sunday, Sept. 9, at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, the Stars are looking to make a resurgence back to greatness, and the future looks bright.

Bianchi, a senior, has only one gear: fast. He used that speed Sunday to zip around the ice and cause havoc alongside Edina forwards Connor Hurley and Dylan Malmquist. 

“I think people are starting to form an image of Holy Angels based on last year,” Bianchi said after Team Southwest’s win. “I don’t think that’s gonna be the case this year. It’s gonna be a lot different.”

The brightest star of the Holy Angels group, Bianchi had 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists) last season including three goals and two assists in the section playoffs loss.

He may lack size, but his speed makes up any disadvantages he has from being small.

As he puts it: “There are big guys out there and they can’t catch me.”

During the summer, Bianchi has been working with Craig Shephard through his D.A.R.T. program to improve his agility while also attending Holy Angels summer camp. This is his first year in the Upper Midwest Elite Hockey League. Beside him, forwards Frankie Mork and Tony Haeg (both Team Southwest as well) will return to rebuild the Holy Angels name.

“It’s actually pretty cool because there’s been a lot of history with Holy Angels. The whole 2000’s they’ve been just a dominant team in AA,” Bianchi said. “It’s kinda cool, people look up to us. A lot of the younger guys are trying figure out what Holy Angels was really like and we’re doing the best we can.”

Improved and experienced, Bianchi has set the bar high for the upcoming year.

“There’s definitely not a thought in our mind that we want to lose a game. We want to go undefeated in conference, that’s our goal.” 

-- Walker Orenstein, MN Hockey Hub staff

Statistics, Summary

Game Recap

Alex Funk of Rochester Lourdes scored twice in an 11-second span of the third period to help Team Southwest rally past the Colorado Rampage 8-5 on Sunday, Sept. 9, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League matchup at Fogerty Arena in Blaine.

Funk’s scoring outburst came with Team Southwest trailing 4-2 early in the third period and started a string of four unanswered goals. Edina’s Connor Hurley and Bo Brauer scored to put Team Southwest ahead 6-4.
R.J Salvato scored to pull the Rampage to within 6-5 with 6:31 remaining, but empty net goals by Mario Bianchi of Holy Angels and Shane Gersich of Holy Family Catholic closed out the third victory in as many games for Team Southwest.
Bianchi and Gersich also scored two goals each for Team Southwest, which features six of the league's top 10 scorers after the opening weekend of play.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

Three Stars

The crafty Rochester Lourdes center scored twice in an 11-second span in the third period to pull his team out of a 4-2 hole, then notched an assist on what proved to be the winning goal by linemate Bo Brauer.
A diminutive forward from Holy Angels, Bianchi used his drag strip speed to create seemingly constant scoring opportunities, two of which he converted into goals. Bianchi, playing on a highly effective line with Edina’s dynamite duo of Connor Hurley (one goal, two assists) and Dylan Malmquist (one assist).
The scrappy Salvato scored a third-period goal to keep the Rampage within one, and he also notched an assist for a Colorado team that showed plenty of grit and determination.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor


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