Through the wonders of social media, hockey fans witnessed Moorhead maestro Carter Randklev work his magic last Tuesday against Brainerd.
The Mr. Hockey hopeful dangled first around, and then through the legs of a befuddled defender and finished with a goal. Saturday’s game at Buffalo, however, saw more grit than glitz.
The 5-foot-7, 165-pound dynamo scored twice in a 3-1 victory. He also played with an edge, drawing three Buffalo penalties and delivering a crunching check of his own that landed him in the penalty box.
“It wasn’t really part of my game until I went to play with Fargo [of the U.S. Hockey League]. That’s just the style of play that comes out sometimes against the older guys. It’s not all dangle and pretty plays. Some nights you struggle but you’ve just got to find a way to make plays.”
A determined Randklev helped the No. 5 Spuds overcome frustration and Buffalo goaltender Nathan Mueller. A 31-17 shots on goal advantage for Moorhead nearly wasn’t enough.
“We definitely struggled throughout the game and their goalie was outstanding,” Randklev said. “But overall, it was nice to see positivity among our players. Even when things weren’t going right, guys were picking each other up.”
Forward Jack Stetz gave Moorhead a 1-0 lead in the first period on an assist from Randklev, career point No. 100 for Randklev.
Stetz scored on a shot off Mueller’s blocker and into the top corner of the net. Not bad for a three-sport athlete that Moorhead coach Jon Ammerman said is "still getting his hockey legs."
“He’s a big part of our line. He does a lot of the dirty work but he also makes really good plays when it counts,” Randklev said.
The score remained 1-0 after two periods, giving the young Bison confidence.
“We were feeling like we really had a shot,” Mueller said. “We realized they aren’t that much better than us.”
Buffalo’s Devin Huebner, one of eighth sophomores in the lineup, tied the game 1-1 on power-play goal that energized a packed Civic Center.
“These are the games that are kind of scary,” Ammerman said. “I thought we played well. But there were a lot of power-plays and penalty kills and their goalie was playing well. But we found a way to win.”
Stetz, in the penalty box for Huebner’s goal, found redemption by assisting on both of Randklev’s third period goals. The Spuds, runner-up at the Class 2A state tournament, saw a challenging early-season game through.
“I wasn’t happy taking those penalties but we able to pull it out,” Stetz said. “Once you get shots through and start winning races to the puck – that’s how you win games.”