Roseau's Alex Strand (5) missed this shot attempt, but he struck for three goals in the Rams' 5-2 victory over Warroad. Photos by Tim Kolehmainen.
Alex Strand (5) is mobbed by teammates after scoring his third goal of the game in a 5-2 victory over Warroad.
What a difference a year makes.
Roseau’s Alex Strand had a front row seat of last year’s home overtime defeat at the hands of longtime rival Warroad. Not from the ice, though. Not even from the bench. Strand’s influence was far less than that.
Last winter, Strand was a freshman starring for the town’s Bantam A team. Like Rams’ fans from toddlers to senior citizens, Strand was jammed into the thin wooden bleachers in the Roseau Memorial Arena. All he could do was cheer in vain as the Warriors’ Austin Streiff tallied the game-winner for a Warroad sweep of the home-and-home series.
Now wearing the green and white of the varsity squad, Strand certainly made his presence felt. The Rams’ leading scorer netted his first career hat trick in a 5-2 victory over the Warriors (7-6-1) Thursday night, Jan. 12 at the Roseau Memorial Arena.
“I just banged bodies and put the puck at the net,” shrugged Strand, who also give big credit to junior Alex Ziegler and fellow sophomore and Bantam A teammate Zach Yon. The speedy trio combined to score all five goals and is 1-2-3 in scoring this season for the Rams (8-3-1).
“They’re battle tested,” said Roseau coach Andy Lundbohm of his young leaders, all of whom have great top-end speed. “They’ve had success in Pee Wees, they’ve had success in Bantams. To them, it’s just high school. They have that confidence that they’ll always be successful.”
Strand and Yon were both part of a terrific class which has won state titles at the Pee Wee A level and the VFW state tournament at the Bantam A level last winter. Lundbohm pointed to past Rams’ teams that included similarly skilled and confident players such as Aaron Ness, Tyler Landman and Mike Lee.
“They just weren’t going to be denied and it’s that same killer instinct with those guys.”
That drive jumped into play in the third period Thursday night shortly after Warroad’s Kyle Sylvester tied the game at 2-2. There was no quit in the youngsters. No fear that this game would turn to a loss.
“We just said we had to keep going,” said Strand, who looked as if the puck on his stick was a yo-yo on a string according to Lundbohm. “We knew we were going to pull this one out.”
“When the (older players) see these younger guys flying around and doing some of the things they’re doing, they kind of pick their play up too,” said Lundbohm.
The flurry began when Ziegler beat a Warriors’ defenseman off the wall and ripped in what turned out to be the eventual game-winner with 7 minutes, 39 seconds remaining. Just 25 seconds later, Strand slipped in his second goal, then followed it up five minutes later with a blast from the top of the left circle to make the lead 5-2 – and cap his hat trick.
Senior Mike Tangen (40) stopped 14 of 16 shots against Warroad.
Roseau coach Andy Lundbohm has helped the Rams to a seven-game winning streak.
Winning streak hits seven
As Roseau introduced its young stars to the high school level, the Rams’ got off to an uncharacteristically slow start, going 1-3-1 in its first five games, albeit against very tough competition. The final game of that stretch was a 5-2 home loss to Section 8AA rival Moorhead – a game that also signaled a turnaround.
“It was just a matter of what roles we wanted our guys playing,” said Roseau coach Andy Lundbohm. “There was a time when we didn’t know where our scoring was going to come from, but that was decided in our first game.”
Sophomore Zach Yon recorded four goals in his first varsity game, a 6-6 tie at Thief River Falls on Nov. 29, and sophomore Alex Strand had four assists. But the current seven-game winning streak didn’t happen until the Rams renewed their focus on defense. In those seven games, Roseau has allowed just 10 goals and no more than two in any contest. It showed against Warroad, as the Warriors only had 16 shots on senior goalie Mike Tangen.
“(The) defense played great in front of me,” said Tangen. “You just had to keep your focus in a game like that and turn them away when they do get those chances.”
Kyle Sylvester (18) scored both goals for Warroad.
Sophomore Alex Strand recorded a hat trick as Roseau roared past rival Warroad 5-2 the Roseau Memorial Arena on Thursday, Jan. 12.
The victory avenged an overtime defeat in Roseau last winter to the biannual opponents 22 miles apart on Highway 11.
Twenty-five seconds after teammate Alex Ziegler gave Roseau the lead for good midway through the third period, Strand scored his second goal to put the game out of reach for Roseau (8-3-1).
Strand added his hat trick goal on a blistering slap shot from the left hashmarks with 2 minutes, 17 seconds remaining.
Strand finished with three goals and an assist, while Ziegler racked up a goal and two assists and sophomore Zach Yon added a goal and an assist. The Rams' top line of underclassmen was formidable all game long, using their speed and puck skills to create offensive chances. Roseau outshot Warroad (7-6-1) by a 39-16 margin.
Kyle Sylvester scored both goals for Warroad, which also received 34 saves from goaltender Andy Foster. Mike Tangen saw just 14 shots for the Rams, but many were quality chances.
1. Alex Strand, Roseau
Often looking as if he had the puck on a string like one of those pong-type games, the sophomore sensation recorded a hat trick in the biggest rivalry game in the state -- his first at the varsity level. Strand gave Roseau a 2-1 lead just 15 seconds into the second period, then finished off the Warriors with the game's final two. His final goal came on a wicked slapper from the boards.
2. Kyle Sylvester, Warroad
Sylvester scored both of the Warriors' goals, including the tying goal early in the third period on a whirling shot from just inside the blue line. He showed off both his speed and his toughness in the corners, often creating scoring chances for himself as well as his teammates. Sylvester had to sit out the final four minutes for an unfortunate checking from behind penalty as the Warriors tried to rally.
3. Alex Ziegler, Roseau
Perhaps no player on the Rams made as much of an offseason improvement as Ziegler, who seems to have added two steps to his speed and 10 mph on his shot. He finished with a goal -- what proved to be the game-winner with 7 minutes, 39 seconds to go in the third -- and two assists.