Midway through the third period, the Detroit Lakes boys hockey team looked on the way to a third consecutive loss to start the season.
Three unanswered goals, including Drew Schwan’s overtime winner, allowed the Lakers to get into the win column 6-5 over Grafton-Park River Friday, Nov. 29 at Kent Freeman Arena.
Detroit Lakes rebounded from a pair of season-opening shutout losses to Fergus Falls and East Grand Forks.
“It felt good to score a goal for the first time and we got three key players back in our lineup,” said head coach Ben Noah. “We didn’t play our best today but our guys showed a lot of heart.”
Schwan sent an innocent-looking wrist shot low toward the near post on Spoilers’ goalie John Schumacher. The puck slipped just under Schumacher’s skate and quickly bounced out of the net to end the game one-minute and 11-seconds into overtime.
The shot shocked Spoiler defenders and the bench viewing the play from the other side of the ice. The goal was discussed by the officiating crew and both coaching staffs before being allowed to stand. Levi Gross and Spencer Bergman were credited with assists on the play.
Two quick goals by the Spoilers early in the third period put a scare into the Lakers and caused Noah to remove goalie Blake Itzen and take a timeout trailing 5-3.
Detroit Lakes held a distinct advantage in shots on goal, but the Spoilers had made shots count versus Itzen scoring the first three on nine shots and all five on 14 shots.
“It was after that timeout, we looked at ourselves with 14 minutes to make this right. We’re a lot better team than they are when we’re playing our game,” Noah said.
The Lakers had four solid scoring chances in the next five minutes: a stuff at the post by Tommy Fritz; Jake Green with a great feed to Alex Bren on a two-on-one; a Jordan Fields wraparound backhand with 12-minutes to play and a flurry around the Spoilers net with the puck finding Bergman in the crease - all denied by Schumacher.
With less than eight minutes to play, Braeden Wimmer cut the lead to 5-4 unassisted. The DL junior defenseman was low in the zone and fired a shot at the net from a tough angle that hit a Spoiler and deflected past Schumacher into the net.
Hunter Burnside was checked from behind on the play and DL was awarded a power play and the goal.
Schumacher and the Spoilers kept DL at bay but were shorthanded again on a Jackson Nelson hook to stop Bren getting in alone on Schumacher with 4:30 left in regulation.
Captain Reed Benson slapped home the tying goal from the middle of the point 18 seconds later to deadlock the game at five goals each.
“It was a weird game to be a part of, but it felt good to get our first win,” said Noah.
DL had the best chance to win the game in the final three minutes coming on a Benson pass to Beau Boehne near the Spoiler crease.
Bren had the lone goal of the first period. Wimmer wound up from the right wing point and Schumacher kicked the shot out but straight to Bren who buried the rebound.
DL dominated the first period of play but had only one goal to show for it after 17 minutes.
“Collectively as a group our defensemen did not make good decisions,” Noah said. “We gave up way too many odd man rushes and that’s where they were capitalizing. Once we figured out that we could outwork them, we just started scoring goals.”
Landon Carter got the Spoilers on the board skating down the left wing, past the defense of Wimmer to beat Itzen upstairs.
Bren set up Jackson Fields to give DL a 2-1 lead. Fields’ slapshot made the pipes ring bouncing around the cage to create a stir in the arena, but the Spoilers silenced that noise seconds later on Carter’s second of the game.
In another flurry, Carter recorded a hat trick and gave the visitors a 3-2 lead they held until late in the second period.
Grafton-Park River had two minor penalties on the same play setting DL up with a five-on-three in the final two minutes.
Wimmer scored from the right circle on a Bren pass to tie the game heading to the third.
Jack Hines (1-2) earned the victory in net and did not allow a goal after coming into the game early in the third period.
DL played with a full lineup for the first time this year with Friday’s season debuts of Wimmer, Bren and Jackson Fields. All three had points in the game.
The Spoilers dropped to 0-2 on the season.
Detroit Lakes (1-2) opens the Mid-State Conference schedule at Northern Lakes (2-0) Tuesday, Dec. 3 in Pequot Lakes. The Lightning defeated Chisago Lakes Area 8-3 on the road and Prairie Center 11-2 at home to start the season.
Detroit Lakes 6, Grafton-Park River 5 (OT)
GF 0 3 2 0 - 5
DL 1 2 2 1 - 6
D - Alex Bren (Braeden Wimmer, Hunter Burnside)
G - Landon Carter (Cole Oasheim)
D - Jackson Fields (Bren)
G - Carter (Oasheim, Nathan Gilleshammer)
G - Carter (Oasheim)
D - Wimmer (Burnside, Bren)
G - Landon Woinarowicz (Jackson Nelson)
G - Woinarowicz
D - Wimmer
D - Reed Benson (Jordan Fields, Jacob McAllister)
D - Drew Schwan ( Levi Gross, Spencer Bergman)