Holy Family Catholic celebrates a third-period goal by Joe Hankinson (9) Saturday en route to a 3-2 victory over Moorhead. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
Three high-intensity games in three days can wear a guy down. Legs tire. Lactic acid builds. Minds wander.
Brady Ziemer didn’t suffer from any of those maladies on Saturday. Ziemer didn’t play every minute of the third period against Moorhead, it just seemed that way. That’s because the senior defenseman and his trademark shoulder-length hair and No. 2 jersey were smack dab in the middle of every important moment of the Fire’s 3-2 victory over the Spuds.
“He loves games like this,” Holy Family Catholic coach Noel Rahn said about Ziemer, who has committed to play at St. Cloud State. “He loves these emotional big games where he can play physical, scrappy, block shots. That’s why he is a Division I kid.
“He plays really big in the big games, and that’s been like that since he was in the ninth grade.”
Big games? The matchup against Moorhead was important to Holy Family Catholic for several reasons. The Fire entered this week’s Hockey For Life Classic ranked No. 7 in Class 2A in the latest state coaches’ poll, while Moorhead came in at No. 8. Both teams won their first two games in the tournament, meaning Saturday’s winner could claim itself as the unofficial tournament champion (all games in the three-day, eight-team tourney were predetermined, so there was no official champion crowned).
And then there was the matter of last year’s meeting between the teams in a holiday tournament in St. Louis Park. Moorhead won that one 6-1.
“If you want to get to the state tournament, you’ve got to beat teams like Edina, like St. Thomas (Academy), like Moorhead,” Rahn said. “That was a good little motivation for them, especially after what happened last year when we got our butts kicked by these guys and kind of embarrassed in the tournament.”
Ziemer was determined to not only avoid another beatdown at the hands of the Spuds but help prove the Fire (10-2-1) belong squarely in the state’s elite group of teams. He ignited Holy Family Catholic’s rally from a 1-0 third-period deficit by scoring on a low shot from the point. Ziemer was credited with an assist on Joe Hankinson’s goal that put the fire up 2-1.
And, after Moorhead (9-4-0) tied it at 2 on a goal by Nolan Westra, it was Ziemer who started -- and nearly finished -- the play on the game-winning goal. He chipped the puck up to A.J. Kittleson in the neutral zone, and Kittleson unloaded a shot from the left faceoff circle. Moorhead goaltender Lance Leonard made the initial save, but the rebound was available to two Fire players crashing the net, one of those players was Cole Wilson, who scored the winning goal.
The other player in position to pop the puck into the net? Yup, it was Ziemer.
“This was a big win,” said Ziemer, who also played shutdown defense in the closing minutes as Moorhead furiously worked to tie the score. “The team needed it.”
As for getting tired, Ziemer admitted it was a long three days.
“But the skating we do at the end of practices helps us in games like these,” he said.
Moorhead coach Jon Ammerman saw a lot he liked from his Spuds during the tournament. He wasn’t overly concerned with the final-day loss to the Fire. It is, after all, still December.
“Some of those little areas where games are won, especially in the third, they did a better job,” Ammerman said. “I think we had our opportunities, it’s just the difference of one or two plays that they made and we didn’t.”
Junior third-line forward Cole Wilson scored the winning goal midway through the third period, and senior defenseman Brady Ziemer had a goal and two assists as Holy Family Catholic, ranked No. 7 in Class 2A in the latest state coaches’ poll, scored three third-period goals to beat No. 8-ranked Moorhead 3-2 on Saturday at Dakotah! Ice Center in Prior Lake.
The victory gives Holy Family Catholic (10-2-1) the defacto championship of the inaugural three-day, eight-team Hockey For Life Classic, as the Fire were the only team in the field to go unbeaten. The loss was the first of the tournament for Moorhead (9-4-0). All of the tournament’s matchups were predetermined, so no official tournament champion was crowned.
Wilson banged home a rebound off an A.J. Kittleson shot with 7:29 remaining to complete a Holy Family Catholic comeback from a 1-0 deficit to start the period. The goal was Wilson’s fifth of the season.
Moorhead entered the third period leading 1-0 on a second-period goal by junior forward Isaac Henkemeyer-Howe. Holy Family Catholic surged to a 2-1 lead on goals 3:10 apart by Ziemer and senior forward Joe Hankinson.
Moorhead tied it at 2 on a goal by Nolan Westra 5:57 into the third.
Fire senior goaltender Conan Hayton stopped 30 shots and was tested repeatedly in the closing minutes when Moorhead pulled goaltender Lance Leonard in favor of an extra skater. Leonard finished with 24 saves for the Spuds.
With the victory, Holy Family Catholic avenged a 6-1 loss to Moorhead last year during a holiday tournament in St. Louis Park.
Moorhead forward Tommy Horan and Holy Family's AJ Kittelson battle for the puck on the edge of the slot during the third period of Saturday's game in Prior Lake. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
Holy Family Catholic senior defenseman Brady Ziemer celebrates after scoring with a shot from the blue line in the third period Saturday during the Fire's 3-2 win over Moorhead. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
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