Little Falls outlasts Fergus Falls in double OT to reach state for the first time since 2012

George Moore records the game-winning goal.

Little Falls goalie Dane Couture and his Flyer teammates prevent a Fergus Falls Otters' goal Thursday, March 25, 2021, during the Section 6-1A Championship at the Exchange Arena in Little Falls. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

LITTLE FALLS — With a little over four minutes to go in the second overtime, Fergus Falls went to the penalty box after a tripping call.

Little Falls head coach Tony Couture called for time knowing his team had a precious chance to reach its first state tournament since 2012.

Whatever Couture told the Flyers worked as 10 seconds into the power play George Moore scored from near the blue line to put the Little Falls Flyers into the state tournament with a 2-1 win over the Fergus Falls Otters in the Section 6-1A finals Thursday, March 25.

“We just told them to settle down,” Couture said. “Our last power play, we didn’t get it set up. We told them to one, win the faceoff, that’s half the battle. Take your time. Take your passes. And I guess that’s what we did and it was an excellent shot by George Moore.”

Gunnar Gustafson assisted on Moore’s game-winner which came with 3:55 left in the second overtime. The goal was Moore’s second goal of the season.


“It was all a blur,” Moore said. “I just saw a wide-open left side of the net and I just shot it and it happened to go in. We are off to state.”

The win gives Little Falls its first section title since 2012 where they also beat Fergus 6-1 in the section final.

Little Falls Boys Hockey vs Fergus Falls Gallery

Last week, coach Tony Couture announced it was his last season coaching after 28 seasons. To put a section banner up in his last season is special to him.

“We wanted to get back and I told the kids after the overtime that we needed to put up a banner here,” Tony Couture said. “They can always come back and look at that banner and be proud of that.”

Couture’s son Dane Couture stopped 47 of 48 shots to be an anchor for the Flyers in net. Coach Couture admitted on some of the Otters’ rushes he had to turn away.

“I had to turn away because you just never knew what was going to happen,” Tony Couture said. “But the last month of the season (Dane) really stepped up his game and has done a nice job. We have worked hard with our goaltenders just with little things and that kind of paid off tonight.”

In the other net, Fergus Falls’ goalie Ben Swanson saved 46 pucks as the shots on goal were an even 48-48 after 72 minutes of hockey.


“One of the things we talked about was that they were outworking us,” Tony Couture said. “We just kept talking about winning the battles and getting to loose pucks, getting pucks to the net and physically trying to outwork them. They outworked us the majority of the game, but our goaltending was excellent.”

After a scoreless second period, the Flyers held onto a 1-0 lead.

After an early third-period penalty by Little Falls, Fergus Falls’ Isaac Johnson tied the game with a power-play goal at the 2:09 mark.

Colton Partain picked up the assist on Johnson’s 21st goal of the season.

“They had a couple of power plays and it’s just part of the game,” Tony Couture said. “We just fought through some adversity. It was just back and forth and it’s wonderful to be back in the state tournament.”

Matt Filippi got the scoring started with a goal with a little over three minutes left in the first period.


Nicholas Stevens circled the net to find Filippi who beat Swanson to make it 1-0. Hayden Johnson also picked up an assist on Filippi’s 19th goal of the season.

“That was really important for us,” Tony Couture said of the first goal calming the nerves of his team. “We don’t score a lot of goals so anytime we can score a goal first it’s good.”

Fergus Falls nearly tied the game right after Filippi’s goal, but Couture stopped it.

The Flyers suffered two first-period penalties both after the whistle misconducts. The first happened in the first two minutes when after the whistle, Gustafson flipped a Fergus Falls’ player’s stick to earn an unsportsmanlike penalty. The second came late in the first period on a roughing penalty.

After nearly two overtimes, Moore credits the conditioning of his Flyers squad in order to overcome the tired legs late.

“Luckily our coaches work us very hard,” Moore said. “We were getting to the end of our endurance, but we kept going and kept fighting.”

Little Falls joins Northern Lakes as the second area team to punch its ticket to state Thursday night.

“It feels great,” Moore said. “To put a banner up in this arena we are going to be made in history for a long time.”


Fergus Falls 0 0 1 0 0 — 1
Little Falls 1 0 0 0 1 — 2

First period: LF-Matt Filippi (Nicholas Stevens, Hayden Johnson) 13:44
Third period: FF-Isaac Johnson (Colton Partain) PPG 2:09
Second overtime: LF-George Moore (Gunnar Gustafson) 13:05
Shots on goal: LF 48, FF 48
Goalies: LF-Dane Couture (47 saves); FF-Ben Swanson (46 saves)

Little Falls 2, Fergus Falls 1

Key: George Moore scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime to propel the Flyers to state.

Overall: LF 13-4-1, FF 15-4.


Next: Little Falls at the Class 1A State Tournament TBA.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

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