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Third-period scoring explosion launches Lakers past Stars

Prairie Center goalie Justin Brever (1) makes a stop against Nate Baker (22) during the game at Kent Freeman Arena Thursday night. (Brian Basham/Record)1 / 2
Goalie Justin Brever (1) saves a shot by Laker sophomore Kyle Herrmann (7) during the first period of Thursday night's game. (Brian Basham/Record)2 / 2

Giving up a short-handed goal is one of the more demoralizing things that can happen to a hockey team, while lifting their opponents up with a bunch of positive momentum.

In Thursday's home game against visiting Park Centre, the Detroit Lakes boys' hockey team used that short-handed goal momentum in the third period -- times two -- for a 4-2 win.

The Lakers notched two early goals to take a 2-1 advantage, on a pair of power play tallies by senior forward Nate Baker and junior defenseman Ethan Brekke.

After a Prairie Centre goal by sophomore defenseman Alex Galligan, the Lakers struck back with consecutive short-handed goals by Baker and junior forward Alex Mason to put the clincher on the 4-2 victory.

"It's a killer when you get scored on with a short-handed goal, but it's worse when you get two on you," said DL head coach Chris Denardo. "We had taken so many penalties in the second period, it was getting ridiculous. We were playing a physical game and everything was getting called.

"But we came out of the (second intermission) and scored early, just like we wanted to."

Baker's power play goal at the 16:20 mark came on the point, on a DL two-man advantage.

Just 50 seconds later, Brekke had an unassisted goal to put DL up 2-1, as the Lakers maintained control of the puck throughout the third period by doubling the shots on goal over the Stars by an 18-9 margin.

"In the first and second periods, I felt the boys were holding the puck too long, trying to get a perfect shot off," Denardo said.

"But I told them they just needed to release the puck off their sticks quicker, crash the nets and pick up some rebounds."

The two short-handed goals by Baker and Mason were the back breakers, as both found open ice after the Stars loaded the DL zone for their power play opportunities, while leaving their zone relatively empty.

DL was taken out of any offensive attack in the second period after being called for five penalties, including a five-minute major.

Still, the Laker penalty kill was strong, allowing just one goal by senior goalie Blake Murphy, that coming at the 10:05 mark on a Ryan Connor shot.

Despite being in penalty kill mode for the majority of the second period, Prairie Centre had only six shots on net, while the Lakers had seven.

"We controlled the game and even outshot them during our penalty kill," Denardo said. "In the first period, I thought we had some of our best puck movement of the season, it was that the guys were holding the puck too long.

"It was only a matter of time that we would pop one off and take off from there."

That happened in the third period, as DL cruised to its fourth win of the season.

Murphy played in his first game of the season between the pipes, registering 20 saves.

"He played well and probably wants that first goal back, but he made the saves when he had to make them," Denardo said.

"On a defensive standpoint, we cleaned the pucks up and there weren't any Park Centre players in front of the net."

Denardo added there still will be a goalie rotation between Murphy and Michael Brunner, who started the first four games and went 3-1.

That first loss was felt last Friday in Fergus Falls, as the Otters reeled off a 4-0 lead in the first period and eventually won 7-2.

The Otters outshot the Lakers by a 29-19 margin, while DL managed just two shots in the second period.

Baker and Derick Brehm each scored for the Lakers, with assists going to Frantisek Jung and Alex Deconcini. Brehm's goal was an unassisted, short-handed one.

"It was such a strange week for us (last week) because we lost a couple of practices and the Fergus Falls game was rescheduled," Denardo said. "They had that flurry of goals in the first period, but we played better in the second and third periods."

The majority of the Otters' goals were on rebounds, as they controlled the front of the DL net. Brunner finished with 22 saves, while FF goalie Austin Carr had 17.

The Lakers will host Park Rapids (1-1) Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Laker results

Park Centre at Detroit Lakes, Thursday, Dec. 9.

Stars 0 1 1 - 2

Lakers 0 0 4 - 4

First period -- No scoring.

Second period -- 1. PC, PP Ryan Connor (Cody Barkowicz) 10:05.

Third period -- 2. DL, SH Nate Baker (Ethan Brekke) 10:05; 3. DL, SH Alex Mason (Nate Baker) 12:28; 4. PC, Nate Mettenburg (Tyler Schultz, Derek Holm) 15:08; 5. DL, Brekke (UA) 15:33; 6. DL, PP Baker (Brekke, Alex DeConcini) 16:13.

Shots on goal -- DL: 11 7 18 - 36...PC: 7 6 9 - 22.

Saves -- DL (Blake Murphy) 20...PC (Justin Brever) 32.

Detroit Lakes at Fergus Falls, Friday, Dec. 3.

Lakers 0 1 1 - 2

Otters 4 1 2 - 7

First period -- 1. FF, Peter Gaustad (Bradie Wahlgren, Blake Brazil) 6:28; 2. FF, Cody Ward (Devin Johnson, Casey Ward) 13:06; 3. FF, Brazil (Cole Sonstebo) 16:17; 4. FF, Cody Ward (Gaustad, Jake Ahlgren) 16:54.

Second period -- 5. FF, Brazil (UA) 13:29; 6. DL, Nate Baker (Frantisek Jung, Alex DeConcini) 15:42.

Third period -- 7. DL, SH Derick Brehm (UA) 2:24; 8. FF, Cody Ward (Casey Ward, Aaron Ahlgren) 5:23; 9. FF, PP Gaustad (Ahlgren, Sonstebo) 10:22.

Shots on goal -- DL: 7 2 10 - 19...FF: 9 11 9 - 29.

Saves -- DL (Mike Brunner) 22...FF (Austin Carr) 17.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.