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Defense pumps up Prior Lake

By David La Vaque, Star Tribune, 02/05/13, 10:25PM CST


After a shaky first period, Lakers regroup to shut out Burnsville

The Lakers celebrate their 1-0 lead in the second period .

Prior Lake boys' hockey coach Joe Pankratz said improved defense is making his Lakers more successful this season.

Senior Joey Kleven showed Tuesday at Burnsville that the defensive corps can make offensive contributions, too.

Kleven scored twice before the third period was 5 minutes old, blowing open what became a 4-0 Lakers' victory at the Burnsville Ice Center.

"He doesn't score a couple goals every game but he chips in offensively quite a bit," Pankratz said.

Kleven's first goal, a power-play blast from just inside the blue line, was fitting from his 6-3, 210-pound frame.

"I knew I had time so I just let a bomb go," Kleven said.

Showing some finesse on his second goal, Kleven skated down the left side, carried the puck behind the Blaze net then turned and fired. The goal gave No. 12 Prior Lake (14-7) a 3-0 lead.

"He's got poise," Pankratz said. "Sometimes it's a flaw of his because he holds onto the puck too long. But he can beat a lot of guys with his first move."

Tuesday's two-goal performance gives Kleven nine goals this season. His primary concern, however, was solidifying a better seed for the approaching Class 2A, Section 2 playoffs.

"We knew we had to beat them to get the second seed so we came out flying," Kleven said.

But it was No. 11 Burnsville (12-9-1), winners in five of its past six games, which held an edge in the first period.

Prior Lake regrouped in the second period. The Lakers made plays, forced Burnsville turnovers and created scoring chances.

The reward came on a Dylan Zins goal at 8:47 of the period. Zins blasted the puck home through a scrum in front of the Blaze goal for his seventh goal this season.

Lakers' goaltender Jordan Moran blanked the Blaze for the second time this season.

"I coached Jordan quite a bit growing up so I know he's a good goalie," Burnsville coach Janne Kivihalme said.

He said Tuesday's loss, while discouraging, does not dampen his optimism for the postseason.

"We've got to bear down and start being consistent," Kivihalme said. "We do some things well and then we forget our assignments."

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