The surging Minnetonka Skippers hosted the Moorhead Spuds in the Saturday night game of the week on MyFoxHockey.com. The Spuds entered the game in the midst of a 6 game losing skid. The Skippers extended it to 7 games with a tightly contested 3-1 win.
The Spuds paid more than a little attention to defensive detail and were highly effective in taking any available space away from Minnetonka. Having been on the losing end of three straight one goal games, the Spuds were determined to stick with their game and were committed to it the entire three periods.
As play teetered back and forth, the Skippers Derek Frawley opened the scoring as he took a puck from Nick Helmer just inside the Spuds blue line. Frawley marched off the right boards directly to the Spuds net and took the puck to the backhand. He shoveled it over Moorhead goalie Logan Marks left shoulder for a 1-0 lead at 11:01 of the first period. The Spuds were unaffected by the goal and continued with their tight checking ways. In fact, they broke the puck out with precision, passed through the neutral zone well, and did everything but score. Minnetonka's Nik Job turned aside all 11 Moorhead first period shots to preserve the 1-0 lead at the break.
As the Spuds took to the locker room, there was a growing feeling that they were assuming control of the game on the ice. That was until senior center Sam Coatta fired a shot from the right boards that waffled past Marks right leg. It took the junior Spud goalie by surprise as the puck was rotating on its way the net, and appeared to be screened as well. The goal came at :15 and in ways could be viewed as a deflating goal.
Scoring goals the first six games of the season were not a problem for the Spuds as they notched 33 goals in those games. During their next six games, they managed 5 goals and were shutout four times, making the two goal deficit a little more difficult to overcome. Impressively, the Spuds did not stop, they carried on and followed through with their game plan. They continued to win battles, held the Skippers to limited chances, and in doing so, drew four Minnetonka penalties in a row.
Quin Buckellew cashed in on a monster rebound as Job made the initial save from a shot by Lucas Henry. Buckellew was opportunistic in pouncing on the loose puck that sailed high in the slot to Job's left. The puck was blasted into the open net at 9:41 energizing the Spuds as they power play came through.
Old faithful delivered for the Skippers as Max Gardiner gathered in an Andrew Prochno rebound off the end boards and shoved it home for his 16th of the season at 9:05 of the third period. The Spuds did not stop playing and had plenty of chances throughout the game, yet it was the play of Job that held the Spuds at one goal for the game. Minnetonka outshot the Spuds 28-27 for the game, including suffocating them with a 10-4 margin in the third period.
The Skippers (11-5-0, 0-0) begin the rugged Classic Lake Conference play on Thursday with the Hopkins Royals. That game will be played at the Hopkins Pavilion, the site of the Royals 4-3 win over the Skippers last season. The Spuds (5-7-1, 2-1-0) face off with Alexandria Monday night in another non-conference game. It will be played in Alec at 7pm.
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