Aaron Herdt (8) and Moorhead slid past Tanner Lindstrom (31) and East Grand Forks, giving the Green Wave their first loss of the season. Photos by Tim Kolehmainen.
Losing a game isn’t usually big news. With apologies to the Bloomington Jefferson juggernaut of the 1990s, the Broncos of International Falls in the 1960s and the Eveleth dynasty of the 1940s, most teams lose at least a handful of games a year – even the very best teams.
But when you’re the last team in the state to suffer a loss, everybody seems to take note. Especially when it doesn’t come until late January.
Moorhead handed previously unbeaten East Grand Forks its first loss, a 4-3 defeat paced by two goals each from the dynamic twin duo of Nick and Tony Uglem. Tony netted the game winner with 5:01 to play on a slap shot from the point, his second power play goal of the night. Nick had given the Spuds an early 2-0 lead less than six minutes into the game. Twice the Green Wave came back to tie the game, but they could never quite get over the hump.
“Tonight, Moorhead was a hungrier hockey team than we were,” admitted Green Wave coach Tyler Palmiscno. “They wanted to win more than we did. They won more foot races and they won more battles.”
“Now we’ll get to see how we respond after a loss,” said Palmiscno. “Where will we go from here with these young guys? Hopefully we can get them back on track.”
As big as East Grand Forks’ victories this year have been – posting shutouts over Park Rapids, St. Cloud Cathedral, Bemidji, Grand Forks Central, Lake of the Woods, Red Lake Falls and Roseau – it’s Thursday night’s loss that will likely gather the most notice state-wide. East Grand Forks came into Thursday night’s game at Moorhead with a big zero in the loss column (13 wins and two ties in 15 games) and the increasing attention of the state. The Green Wave had ridden their big start to the No. 2 ranking in Class 1A behind two-time defending state champion St. Thomas Academy.
Nobody had scored a goal on the Green Wave since Grand Forks Red River (N.D.) way back on Jan. 3 – four games ago. It was the second three-game shutout streak already this winter for East Grand Forks and Palmiscno.
Nick Uglem made sure it wouldn’t continue, scoring just 49 seconds into the game on the very first shift. It should have been the signal it was going to be a long night for the Green Wave. When he scored again less than five minutes later, it would have been easy to throw in the towel.
“There were definitely some openings and I was just lucky enough to capitalize,” said Uglem, who admitted that the fast start was key for the Spuds to end their five-game losing streak. “If we had let up a goal early, we might have just been, ‘Oh, jeez, it’s happening again’. But we got those goals early and were, ‘We can do this. We got it in the bag. Keep rolling with that momentum.’ And we did.”
Moorhead coach Pete Cullen and his players tried to downplay the significance of handing East Grand Forks its first loss, but despite their protestations, they knew what they had just accomplished.
“Handing a team its first loss is a huge confidence booster,” said Nick Uglem. “Hopefully we can just run with that momentum.”
“We have our own troubles to worry about,” countered Cullen. “We really tried to focus on what we can control. Our effort is number one and fighting for each other was the motto going into tonight. We can’t worry about East Grand Forks. We have enough to worry about in-house here.
“And we took care of it.”
Tony Uglem (10) scored two goals, including the game-winner with just over five minutes remaining.
Twin brothers Tony and Nick Uglem each scored twice as Moorhead handed East Grand Forks its first loss of the season, 4-3 at the Moorhead Sports Center Thursday night, Jan. 17.
The Green Wave (13-1-2) were the last unbeaten team remaining in the state, but never held the lead against Moorhead (8-8-1), which ended its own five-game losing streak. Nick Uglem gave the Spuds the lead just 49 seconds into the game, tucking a rebound past East Grand Forks' goaltender Tanner Lindstrom. He scored again 4 minutes, 35 seconds later on a one-timer from Thomas Carey and the Spuds appeared to be off and running.
But EGF's Tanner Tweten scored with 11 seconds left in the first to cut the lead and Tommy Hajicek tied the score 5:26 into the second period. After Tony Uglem regained a one-goal lead for Moorhead, Tweten tallied his second of the night on the power play to tie it up again early in the third. The Green Wave weren't going down easily.
Tony Uglem ripped in the game-winner with 5:01 left. His slapshot from the point on the power play beat Lindstrom cleanly -- and the Spuds' defense made it stand up.
Lindstrom finished with 35 saves on 39 shots, while Jacob Dittmer made 27 saves for Moorhead.
1. Tony Uglem, Moorhead
Twice in the final two periods East Grand Forks tied the game up, and twice Uglem regained the lead for the Spuds. Both goals came on the power play, the game-winner coming on a slapshot from the point that found the back of the net with just over five minutes remaining. The Uglem brothers, while not playing on the same line, continued to create their offensive magic.
2. Nick Uglem, Moorhead
While Tony finished off the scoring, Nick got the Spuds off and running in the first period. He scored on a rebound 49 seconds into the game, then pushed in a one-timer less than five minutes later, two big goals for a team that was trying to erase the bad memories of a five-game losing skid.
3. Tanner Tweten, East Grand Forks
Just a freshman, the 6-foot-2 Tweten showed the skills that make him a varsity contributor on his two goals. The first came when he sneaked behind the Moorhead defense and scored with just 11 seconds left in the first, a goal-scorer's kind of goal. The second showed his toughness and grit when he poked in a rebound during a scrum early in the third.