Cody Rahman (19) scored the first Moorhead goal on a diving play in the first period. Photos by Tim Kolehmainen.
Thomas Carey (27) leads the Spuds in assists with 15.
At this time last year, Thomas Carey was buried on the Moorhead junior varsity squad. Sure, he practiced with the big boys, but come game days, the crafty center’s night was done before the National Anthem played at 7 p.m. Attendance at his games was a family and friends only affair.
Now a junior, Carey centers the Spuds’ most potent line. When he hits the ice, a much larger crowd takes notice. Sandwiched between snipers Tony and Nicholas Uglem on an all-junior line, Carey is a now key cog for No. 7AA Moorhead (14-3-0).
“I worked really hard over the summer,” said Carey after scoring a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime victory over Roseau Tuesday, Jan. 24 at the Moorhead Sports Center.
And it certainly has paid off – both for Carey and the Spuds.
Tuesday’s game-winner was reflective of the line’s play this year.
Just over a minute into overtime, Nicholas Uglem carried the puck into the Roseau zone and dumped it into the corner. Carey crashed into the play, battling the Rams’ Chase Broten for the puck behind the net. He found a way to get his stick on the loose puck, shoveling it towards the slot. Tony Uglem, who leads the Spuds in goals with 17, wiggled free and ripped the game-winner over goaltender Jared Strand.
“That was a real gritty, gutsy effort by Thomas Carey behind the net,” said Moorhead coach Dave Morinville. “And Tony Uglem – that guy was completely holding him – but he had enough gumption to get it up and over the goalie.”
As natural as the trio seems on the ice, it wasn’t a case of instant chemistry. The juniors all played on the same youth teams growing up, but rarely were on the ice together. This winter has been their first real consistent time as a unit.
“We’re definitely starting to click right now,” said Carey, who also scored the game-tying goal in the third period. “They’re fun to play with.”
While the Uglem twins have combined for 27 of the Spuds’ 76 goals, it’s Carey who leads the team in assists with 15. Morinville credited his vision on the ice – and his willingness to be the playmaker.
“He moves the puck very well,” said Morinville. “If the guy’s open, he moves it. That’s a nice guy to have as a center iceman. He doesn’t try to over-handle it.”
Carey has added a goal-scoring touch in recent games, however. He’s scored four goals in his past four games after only recording one in the first 13. Included in that stretch was a two-goal, one-assist effort in a 3-1 victory at Warroad on Jan. 21.
Thomas Carey (27) rips in the game-tying goal midway through the third period.
Watson headed to Hall
Prior to the drop of the opening puck, Moorhead honored Chuck Watson, the first coach in the history of the high school program. Dozens of Watson’s former players were on hand for the quick ceremony.
“It was a battle, but we got it done,” Watson told the crowd about the start of high school hockey in town. He pointed to his former players and finished, “These guys were the inspiration for many young kids who wanted to play hockey.”
Watson, called the “Godfather of Moorhead hockey,” coached the Spuds from 1964 to 1972. His teams began practicing and playing on outdoor ice before the opening of the Fargo Coliseum in 1968. He will be inducted into the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame during the state tournament in March.
While most of the attention on the youngsters in Roseau’s lineup has centered around leading scorers Alex Strand and Zach Yon, there are other sophomores who have contributed. One who elevated his game Tuesday night in Moorhead was forward Alex Halstensgard.
The tireless winger had a goal and an assist in the 3-2 overtime loss – both in the second period when the Rams turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. Halstensgard forced the Spuds’ defense into a pair of turnovers and converted both into goals. First, he fired a low shot to Michael Bitzer’s stick side to tie the game at 1-all midway through the second. Then he grabbed a loose puck and beat a stumbling Terry Leabo up the ice on a shorthanded rush. His shot was stopped by Bitzer, but teammate Alex Ziegler buried the rebound to give Roseau the lead.
“He’s a high-energy guy and he needs to play like that for us to be successful,” said Roseau coach Andy Lundbohm. “He was a spark plug for us when we needed one.”
Moorhead honored its first varsity hockey coach, Chuck Watson, before the game. Watson will be inducted into the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame in March.
Tony Uglem scored the game-winner just 1 minute, 41 seconds into overtime to give No. 7AA Moorhead an important 3-2 victory over visiting Roseau Tuesday, Jan. 24 at the Moorhead Sports Center. Uglem one-timed a shovel pass from linemate Thomas Carey over the shoulder of Rams' goaltender Jared Strand to send the Spuds (14-3-0) to a Section 8AA victory.
Roseau (9-6-1) had led 2-1 after two periods on goals from Alex Halstensgard and Alex Ziegler, but couldn't tag Moorhead with its first section loss. Moorhead's Carey tied the game with one second remaining on a power play midway through the third.
Cody Rahman scored the only goal of the first period for Moorhead, which outshot the Rams 32-28.
Michael Bitzer had 26 saves for the Spuds, including a terrific toe save early in the overtime that rescued his team. Jared Strand had 29 saves for Roseau, flashing a quick glove numerous times in the game.
1. Thomas Carey, Moorhead
Carey centers the Spuds' junior line between the Uglem twins (Tony and Nicholas) -- and he's the distributor who makes the unit hum with his crisp passing and rink vision. But lately, Carey's also been adding a scoring touch. Against Roseau, he tied the game with a power play goal midway through the third then assisted on Tony Uglem's game-winner in overtime. Carey battled through a Chase Broten check in the corner and shoveled the puck out to Uglem in the slot.
2. Tony Uglem, Moorhead
Admittedly, Uglem didn't have a great game by his standards. The big junior winger and his line didn't connect on nearly as many plays as they usually do. But when the game was on the line, he found a way to get it done. With linemate Thomas Carey fighting out of the corner, Uglem streaked to an open spot in the slot and when the puck came his way, he buried it for the game-winner.
3. Alex Halstensgard, Roseau
The Rams' "other" sophomore forward certainly had a big game, as he was directly involved in both Roseau goals. With classmates Zach Yon and Alex Strand getting most of the headlines through the first half of the season, Halstensgard has largely been overlooked. He won't after scoring the Rams' first goal on a hustle play -- capped by a terrific low shot to Michael Bitzer's stick side -- and then assisting on the second on another play in which he fought past the Spuds' defense on a short-handed rush and got the puck on net.