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Metro Northeast gaining momentum in Elite II league

By Special to MN Hockey Hub, 10/14/09, 7:20AM CDT


Team is unbeaten in its last three games

After a tough start to the Elite II season, Metro Northeast is beginning to find its stride. Metro Northeast started 0-4-1 but has rebounded to go 2-0-1 in its last three games.

In Eau Claire, Wis., on Oct. 3, Metro Northeast lost to undefeated Metro Southeast 1-0 in a thriller dominated by the goaltenders.

Having only scored five goals in its first five games, while only giving up an average of three goals per game, Metro Northeast finally found its scoring drive on Oct. 4 against Team Southwest.

Metro Northeast had 44 shots and scored five goals as it earned its first win of the Elite II season by a score of 5-3. Scoring for Metro Northeast were Tyler Jokinen (Andover), Nick Huffman (Centennial), Brandon Schuman (Stillwater), Jeff Daugherty (Totino Grace) and Andrew Habel (Chisago Lakes).

Gordon Diefel (Stillwater) and Paige Skoog (Forest Lake) combined to turn away 22 shots to help Metro Northeast earn its first victory.

On Oct. 10 in Blaine, Metro Northeast registered a 4-3 victory over Metro West. Special teams were the highlight of the day for Metro Northeast, as it got two power play goals and two shorthanded goals. Brandon Schuman (Stillwater) had two goals and Jared Gray (Andover) and Cory Erchul (Stillwater) one each for Metro Northeast. In net, Don Nalezny (Centennial) and Gordon Diefel (Stillwater) turned away 25.

In the second game of the weekend, on Oct. 11, Metro Northeast tied Team Northwest 3-3. Metro Northeast led 3-1 late in the game on goals by Nick Huffman (Centennial), Cory Lushanko (Chisago Lakes) and Tyler Jokinen (Andover). Team NorthWest rallied in the last 3 minutes of the game to tie the score and end the game in a tie. Paige Skoog (Forest Lake) and Gordon Diefel (Stillwater) made 29 saves for Metro Northeast in the tie.

One of the highlights of the season so far has been the strong goaltending by Diefel, Skoog, and Nalezny. Balanced scoring also has been a highlight.

“We have a great group of kids that are still learning to play together,” Metro Northeast coach Chris Lepper said. “Every time we play, we are getting stronger as a group.”

“I like it, it has been a great experience so far. Elite II is getting me ready for my high school season. The talent level is good and I am having fun meeting new friends,” Jared Gray of Andover said about his Elite II experience.

Added Jacob Flynn of Centennial, “It is a good way to get players from other areas together. Overall the talent of the teams is pretty good, and I am having fun.”