Warroad's Kyle Sylvester, right, works the puck up the ice as Duluth Marshall's Jordan Fralich defends. Photo by Loren Nelson
Warroad's trio of Jared Bethune, Kobe Roth, and Kyle Sylvester had racked up an astounding 202 points through 18 games entering Friday night's showdown with No. 4-ranked (Class 1A) Duluth Marshall.
The Warriors really haven't needed a Plan B on offense all season.
That all changed against the Hilltoppers, as the Warriors' all-but-unstoppable trio was held to two empty net goals in the closing minutes. Warroad's impromptu backup plan emerged in the name of sophomore Max Oelkers, who scored two clutch goals as the Warriors pulled out a 5-2 win at Mars Lakeview Arena.
Oelkers scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner with 1 minute, 43 seconds remaining. Oelkers, who played at the Bantam level in Mora last year, also scored with 6:20 left to tie it at 2.
Duluth Marshall pulled goaltender Cullen Mudrak with 1:33 left, and Jared Bethune scored an empty net goal in the final minute just seconds later to clinch the victory.
Sylvester added an empty net goal in the final minute.
Duluth Marshall came out with intensity, and Cam McClure sprung loose for a breakaway just a minute into the first but was denied by Warroad goaltender Alex Burke.
Warroad claimed the early lead with 6:20 to play in the first on a goal by sophomore Logan Wallace.
The second period was controlled start to finish by Duluth Marshall, due in part to its multiple power-play opportunities. Bethune took a 5-minute major penalty for contact to the head, and McClure scored twice on the ensuing power play. His second goal, just 1:10 into the third period, gave the Hilltoppers a 2-1 lead.
-- Morgan Nygaard