ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Powered once again by senior Landon Parker and sophomore Jaksen Panzer, East Grand Forks Senior High rolled past Litchfield-Dassel-Cokato 8-1 in the quarterfinal round of the Minnesota state Class A boys hockey tournament Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center.
After a tight double-overtime win against Warroad in the Section 8A title game, East Grand Forks wasted no time to get out in front of LDC. Parker was able to redirect a shot from the point just 25 seconds into the game, registering his 22nd goal of the year.
“At times there’s a little bit of relief. 3-0 after one and 6-1 after two, but I didn’t think we were super sharp," Green Wave coach Tyler Palmiscno said. "We weren’t doing hard things all the time. I really liked our third period and the way we played real hard and simple."
Then just minutes later, junior Zach Stocker was the recipient of a turnover behind the Dragons' net and he did not miss from the slot, putting the Green Wave up 2-0 early. East Grand Forks had little problem taking control of the game from there.
Litchfield gaffes leading to the first two goals set the example as East Grand Forks was looking to take advantage of any opportunity they could.
Perhaps a bit overshadowed by the Panzer hat trick was the excellent chemistry from the line of Parker, Brody Schultz and Tanner Lubinski throughout the game.
“That line has been getting better and better,” Palmiscno said. “I like the way they move the puck and distributed pucks today.”
Just after Litchfield’s best chance of the opening period, Parker and Schultz hustled back for an odd-man rush and connected for Parker’s second of the period and a 3-0 lead heading into intermission.
In the second, the Parker-Schultz duo struck again in the opening minutes on a tic-tac-toe play and put the Green Wave ahead 4-0. Only 20 minutes into the game and Parker had two goals and an assist.
These are the types of team-building moments that could push a team through the semifinal round, no matter the opponent.
“As you move on in this tournament things get tighter and tighter. Everything is magnified when you only get so many chances in a game. You have to capitalize when you do,” said Palmiscno.
Panzer started his day by cashing in his 11th goal of the year about 35 seconds later, and then as a true testament to the dominance of the Green Wave throughout the matinee, he added a shorthanded marker.
The first penalty kill of the game for the Green Wave started with Panzer being sprung on a breakaway by Brandon Anderson. His forehand-backhand move snuck right through the five-hole of Darby Halonen.
Before the end of the period, Caden Besemer did convert on the power play for the Dragons, putting them on the board in the 6-1 game.
The final dagger came from Panzer on the penalty kill once again. In a deja vu sequence, he found himself yet again on a shorthanded breakaway and scored his third of the night, pushing the score to 7-1.
Even if Palmiscno and crew are not too familiar with the opponent, to see a team firing on all cylinders heading into such an important matchup against Gentry Academy on Friday does give a confidence boost.
“To be honest I haven’t spent a ton of time watching them. We have these two days off to go in and take a look at what they got,” he said. “I know they are super skilled with a ton of high-end players. We’re really excited for the challenge. You want to play the best in order to be the best. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got and surely not going to back down from anybody.”
Apart from Panzer and Parker, Schultz notched three points and senior defenseman Brandon Anderson added three assists in the win. The Green Wave led in shots 51-9 by the end of the game.
Now, East Grand Forks will make another trip to St. Paul to take on Gentry Academy in the semifinal round. Gentry also won its quarterfinal game handily, beating Northern Lakes 8-0.
“We have the opportunity tomorrow and Thursday to get back and use those two days to continue to improve,” Palmiscno said. “When we play hard and do hard things, that is when we are at our best. When we try to get cute or try to look for an extra play, that is when we get out of sorts for a bit, which I thought we did at times today.”
East Grand Forks 8,
First period -- 1. EGF, Landon Parker (Logan Spencer, Brandon Anderson) 0:25; 2. EGF, Zach Stocker (Jaksen Panzer) 3:17; 3. EGF, Parker (Brody Schultz, Tanner Lubinski) 12:58
Second period -- 4. EGF, Schultz (Parker, Lubinski); 5. EGF, Panzer (Brandon Anderson) 3:22; 6. EGF, Panzer (Parker, Spencer); 7. LDC, Caden Besemer (Ryan Schutz, Jack Hillmann) 13:32
Third period -- 8. EGF, Panzer 5:31; 9. EGF, Schultz 12:52
Goalie saves -- LDC: Darby Halonen 39, Travis Halonen 4; EGF: Collie Quirk 8, Chase Mero 0