by Scott DCamp
Thief River Falls boys hockey team is back in the Section 8A championship game after a one-year absence. The Prowlers defeated Lake of the Woods 3-2 Thursday night and upset top-seeded Warroad 6-4 Saturday night to return to the section championship game.
Thief River Falls Head Coach Tim Bergland was complimentary of Lake of the Woods and the intensity it brought to a playoff quarterfinal game Thursday night.
“I though they played a very good game, their top players played very well,” Bergland said. It was a typical section playoff game. If you look across the board in the section that night every game was closer than expected.”
Following a scoreless first frame, Thief River Falls got on the board first a little over a minute into the second period on a Parker Lane to Kaleb Flaagan scoring play.
Lake of the Woods answered with 7:08 left in the second on a Gunner Ferrier goal.
Thief River Falls went back on top with 28 seconds left in the second on Flaagan’s second goal of the night, with Ethan Janisch credited for the assist.
Lake of the Woods wouldn’t back down, however, and once again tied the game on an unassisted goal by Nathan Poolman with 13:50 left in regulation.
Thief River Falls took advantage of a power play opportunity and took the lead for good on a Janisch to Hunter Larson goal with 5:04 left to play.
“It’s a credit to our kids that they kept battling back and never getting down,” Bergland said.
Thief River Falls’ semifinal match-up against Warroad marked the fourth time in the last five seasons that the two teams have met. The games are historically low scoring, which made Saturday’s 6-4 thriller an anomaly among section semifinal games between Thief River Falls and Warroad.
“If history was any indication, you would have expected a 2-1 game,” Bergland said. “If you go back 10 years, it seems like they were all 2-1 type games. To see a 6-4 game is not a typical semifinal game.”
The Prowlers looked like they would win the game without much of a fight from the Warriors after scoring three goals in the games’ first 14 minutes. First period goals were scored by Tucker Skime, Evan Bushy and Jace Jorde, with the latter two coming on power plays. Aaron Myers added a pair of assists, with Bushy, Jorde, Skime and Brady Anderson also credited with assists in the first.
Warroad started to work its way back into the game on a Grant Slukynsky goal, with assists from Owen Meeker and Max Marvin, with 1:20 left to play in the first.
“Getting up 3-0 is surely something that you don’t expect in the playoffs,” Bergland said. “It would have been nice to get out of the first period up 3-0 but they got a goal to make it 3-1.”
The Prowlers quickly answered to go up 4-1 on a Skime to Myers goal three minutes into the second period.
Warroad battled back with two goals in the second by Carter Pelland on a power play and Owen Meeker at even strength to cut the deficit to 4-3.
“We went into the third period up a goal,” Bergland said. “Being on the road in the postseason, we were where we wanted to be.”
The Warriors tied the game on Grant Slukynsky goal, with assists from Max Marvin and Tristan Johnson to tie the game 4-4.
The Warriors appeared to have momentum on their side after scoring three unanswered goals. However, it was the Prowlers who seized the opportunity scoring a pair of late goals to regain the lead.
The first was an unassisted goal by Bushy with 4:45 left to play. Fifty seconds later, Anderson scored with an assist from Myers give the Prowlers some breathing room with 3:55 left on the clock.
With the win, Thief River Falls will face defending Section 8A champion East Grand Forks tomorrow night (Thursday) in Warroad. The Prowlers are 0-2 against the Green Wave so far in 2017-18.
“We have to compete harder,” Bergland said. “They have a very good team that’s made plays against us. We have to have more energy and be more engaged in the game.”
Thief River Falls 3,
Lake of the Woods 2
First period – No score.
Second period – TRF, Kaleb Flaagan (Parker Lane) 1:05; LOW, Gunner Ferrier (Nathan Poolman) 9:52; TRF, Kaleb Flaagan (Ethan Janisch) 16:32.
Third period – LOW, Nathan Poolman 3:10; TRF, Hunter Larson (PP) (Ethan Janisch) 11:56.
Shots – Lake of the Woods 8-9-5 – 22; TRF 9-13-9 – 31.
Power plays – LOW 0/1; TRF 1/2.
Penalties – LOW 2 (4 minutes); TRF 1 (2 minutes).
Goalies – LOW, Lemuel Carradice 28 saves; TRF, Nick Corneliusen 20 saves.
Thief River Falls 6, Warroad 4
First period – TRF, Tucker Skime (SH) (Evan Bushy, Aaron Myers) 0:56; TRF, Evan Bushy (PP) (Brady Anderson, Jace Jorde) 4:44; TRF, Jace Jorde (PP) (Tucker Skime, Aaron Myers) 13:30; Warroad, Grant Sluskynsky (Owen Meeker, Max Marvin) 15:40.
Second period – TRF, Aaron Myers (Tucker Skime) 2:57; Warroad, Carter Pelland (PP) (Owen Meeker, Grant Slukynsky) 5:04; Warroad, Owen Meeker (Carter Pelland) 8:36.
Third period – Warroad, Grant Slukynsky (Max Marvin, Tristan Johnson) 1:02; TRF, Evan Bushy (UA) 12:15; TRF, Brady Anderson (Aaron Myers) 13:05.
Shots – TRF 9-6-6 – 21; Warroad 15-16-14 – 45.
Power plays – TRF 2/5; Warroad 1/3.
Penalties – TRF 4 (8 minutes); Warroad 6 (12 minutes)
Goalies – TRF, Nick Corneliusen 41 saves; Warroad 15 saves.