Moorhead's Ethan Frisch (5) played his usual shutdown defense and scored what proved to be the winning goal in the second period. Photo by Loren Nelson, SportsEngine
Pinpoint-placed shots have come so routine for the marksmen from Moorhead, the northwest Minnesota town that sits hard on the North Dakota border might just as well be renamed Snipe City.
When we last saw the Spuds, they were launching shots under crossbars and inside posts during a scintillating March state tournament run that ended with a 6-3 loss to Grand Rapids in the Class 2A championship.
Most of the top scorers for Moorhead have returned this season, a big reason why the Spuds were No. 3 in the state preseason Class 2A coaches’ poll.
The aim was just a fraction off on Friday night in the Spuds’ season debut, but they still had enough firepower to ease past Lakeville North 4-2 in the nightcap of the opening day of the Youth Hockey Hub’s The Opener tournament at Bloomington Ice Garden.
“Obviously we found a way to win the game, but we had a lot of opportunities that we just didn’t capitalize on,” Moorhead coach Jon Ammerman said. “We had about three or four pipes, a couple pucks that were laying right there.”
Moorhead senior forward Jack Stetz run iron at least twice, including once on a second-period penalty shot. None of those near misses seamed to bother the Spuds (1-0), who took control with a three-goal flurry in the second period. Junior defenseman Ethan Frisch capped the second-period scoring outburst with a goal with 33 seconds left in the second, putting Moorhead ahead 3-1.
Frisch’s shot was an upper shelf laser from the blue line, a true Snipe City blast.
“You know, he is a pretty special player,” Ammerman said. “I think right now we are just scratching the surface of what he can do.”
That’s a scary thought for Moorhead’s opponents, as Frisch, who has committed to play at North Dakota, was dominant at times last season as a sophomore. Now he is a year older, several pounds heavier and noticeably stronger.
“And he can skate like crazy,” Ammerman said. “When the puck is on his stick, good things happen.”
Frisch has a calm, cool and collected demeanor to go along with all his other attributes. He said the Spuds are too veteran of a team to let a lack of early scoring be a cause for panic.
“If you let that stuff get to you, stuff you can’t control, I think that’s when the team starts going down,” Frisch said.
While Moorhead’s top line of Stetz, Cole O’Connell and Carter Randklev was mostly held in check (Stetz did score an empty net goal, while Randklev suffered and injury and was held out of the third period for precautionary reasons, according to Ammerman), the unit of Kyler Kleven, Isaac Henkemeyer-Howe and Parker Dronen were involved in a two of the second-period goals.
“I thought our second line was very good,” Ammerman said. “If we get secondary scoring, that is going to be a huge advantage for us.”
Lakeville North (0-1) got a clutch goal from Garrett Daly midway through the final period to pull within 3-2, but Stetz clinched the win with his 150-foot empty netter with 20 seconds left.
Ryan Stafford scores a second-period goal for Moorhead, beating Lakeville North goaltender Caleb Meyer. Photo by Loren Nelson, SportsEngine
Junior defenseman Ethan Frisch scored what proved to be the game-winning goal on a blast from the point in the second period, and Jack Stetz added an empty-net goal in the third as Moorhead, last season's state Class 2A runner-up ranked No. 3 in the Class 2A state coaches’ poll, held on to beat Lakeville North 4-2 on Friday night at Bloomington Ice Garden in the season opener for both teams.
Lakeville North’s Spencer Schneider scored the only goal of the first period on a power play, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead in the nightcap of the Youth Hockey Hub’s The Opener tournament.
Moorhead took control in the second period on goals by Parker Dronen, Ryan Stafford and Frisch, with Frisch’s goal putting the Spuds up 3-1 with 33 seconds left in the second.
Lakeville North (0-1) made the finish interesting after getting a goal by defenseman Garrett Daly midway through the third.
Stetz, who rang the pipe on a failed second-period penalty shot, launched a shot two-thirds the length of the ice and into the empty No. 19-2A Lakeville North net in the closing seconds to secure the victory.
Senior Lance Leonard made 15 saves for Moorhead (1-0). Lakeville North sophomore Caleb Mayer was outstanding in his first varsity start, stopping 40 of 43 shots.
Senior Carter Randklev, Moorhead’s top returning scorer, was injured in the second period and did not play in the third. He is expected to be back in action on Saturday when Moorhead squares off against St. Thomas Academy.
Lakeville North sophomore Caleb Mayer made 40 saves in his first varsity start Friday night. Photo by Loren Nelson, SportsEngine
The MN Hockey Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only.