Flyers, Lakers skate to two-all tie
A pair of No. 4 seeds in their respective sections, Detroit Lakes and Little Falls, skated to a 2-2 tie in a hardfought regular season home finale for the Lakers Thursday night.
“That’s what we want,” Laker head coach Todd Dwyer said. “Playing together and we’ve got to play with desperation. If we don’t have that desperation this time of year, we’re going to be in trouble.”
The Lakers maintained composure in some desperate times late in the game.
Little Falls controlled the puck and the offensive zone in the final five minutes of regulation but the Lakers were able to weather the storm and iced the puck when necessary while Ben Boomgarden kept pucks out of the net. His best stop came on a Remington Retka wrist shot from the left circle late in the period.
Little Falls had a three-on-one break deep into the DL zone but Adam Josephson’s pass was in the skates of Bryce DeDomines to negate a big threat.
Earlier in the third, DL killed off a pair of penalties to Collin Ginnaty on a trip and Jace Kovash on a hold with 18 seconds of overlapping five-one-three time.
Ryan Paskey won a big defensive draw at center ice to negate the two-man advantage and Boomgarden and the DL D-men staved off the Flyers’ power play.
“It’s pretty important this time of year and the penalty kill has been big for us all year,” Dwyer said. “We always work on it. You’ve got to have it.”
The Lakers’ power play has been consistent down the stretch and DL took a 1-0 lead at five-minutes, 55-seconds of the first period on a wrist shot from defenseman Jack DeConcini with assists to Jeric Giwoyna and Ben Unruh.
Flyers’ defenseman Hunter Swanson snapped a shot from just inside the blue line off the crossbar to knot the score at 12:37 and Josephson set up Trenton Axel in the 15th minute for a 2-1 Little Falls’ lead after a period of play.
Will Green had the hit of the game for DL taking out Retka at center ice and tempers flared throughout the remaining two periods and the eight-minute overtime session.
DL tied the game after a scrum in front of the Flyers’ net and in the corner when Will Stowman got a loose puck and fired a pass to Nick Lund wide open in the slot. Lund flicked a shot past Little Falls’ goalie Justin Pekula. Cam Gilbertson had the secondary assist.
DL’s special teams came up big again in overtime as Kovash went to the box for a hit after the whistle in front of Boomgarden. The Laker penalty kill was strong while Boomgarden stood tall against the Flyers’ best scoring opportunity from inside the right circle by Ben Sowada.
The Flyers outshot DL 34-22. Boomgarden was the star of the show for the Lakers making 32 saves.
The game was a solid test for the Lakers as they prepare for the upcoming playoffs. DL finishes the season Friday, Feb. 17 on the road at St. Paul Johnson.
“It’s a character-builder is what we’re calling it,” said Dwyer.
After Friday’s game, DL (13-8-2) will begin preparation for the Section 8A quarterfinal matchup with No. 5-seeded Crookston (10-15), a rematch of last year’s first round game that went to two overtimes. The Lakers defeated the Pirates 7-2 in Crookston during the regular season.
“We need to recover a bit; we’re going to have a tough game tomorrow,” said Dwyer. “Johnson is a top 20 team. They’re going to bang on us and we know it. That’s what we wanted. We just have to make sure we get our feet moving.”
The Section 8A game with Crookston will be played Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Kent Freeman Arena in Detroit Lakes.
LF 2 0 0 0 — 2
DL 1 1 0 0 — 2
DL - Jack DeConcini PP (Giwoyna, Unruh)
LF - Hunter Swanson (unassisted)
LF - Trenton Axel (Josephson)
DL - Nick Lund (Stowman, Gilbertson)
Saves: LF - Pekula 20/22; DL - Boomgarden 32/34.