Moorhead holds off East Grand Forks comeback
The Spuds scored shorthanded with less than four minutes to go to win 5-3
EAST GRAND FORKS — Despite still being one of the Minnesota Section 8AA boys hockey favorites, Moorhead's record has hovered near .500 this season as the Spuds have navigated a difficult schedule and struggled to win tight games against top teams.
To that end, it was no small feat Tuesday night to hang on in the third period on the road against East Grand Forks Senior High, a team that had won seven straight, put 35 shots on net, had an extended 5-on-3 power play and went on the man advantage down one goal twice in the final 6 minutes, 4 seconds.
Aaron Reierson's shorthanded breakaway goal with 3:23 left in the third period iced a 5-3 victory over the Green Wave at the Civic Center.
"We didn't play very well in the third period, but we found a way to win and that's a skill, too, and that's, frankly, a skill we need to work on," Moorhead coach Jon Ammerman said. "At times, we were really good and at times (East Grand Forks) pushed the pace, for sure."
The game's first important sequence came midway through the second period. The Green Wave received 50 seconds of a 5-on-3 in a 1-1 game with 10:07 left in the second but came up empty on the power play.
The Spuds then scored three goals in the final four minutes of the second. In a span of 2:09, Moorhead's Colby Krier, Joey Simonich and Reierson scored to put the Spuds up 4-1.
"I thought at times we played well," East Grand Forks coach Tyler Palmiscno said. "There's some positives there, but we're not going to beat a team like that when we play 24 minutes. They're deep, fast and transition quick. The last three minutes of the second period cost us the hockey game. Unfortunately, that was the difference because I thought that we had some really good efforts tonight. We played a pretty good brand of hockey for the most part, but it wasn't good enough against a good opponent."
Reierson came into the game dominating the Spuds' season scoring, tallying 19 of the team's 51 goals. He had two goals and an assist against the Wave, pushing his goal-scoring streak to seven-straight games.
"I don't think it's a secret he scores for us," Ammerman said. "Honestly, (depth scoring) is a work in progress. To get one (goal) from each line tonight is hopefully a sign of things to come."
Despite a 4-1 lead entering the third period, the Spuds had to hang on tight most of the third period that saw the Wave outshoot Moorhead 13-3.
Brock Schultz hammered home a centering feed from Landon Jamieson at 4:45 of the third period and Chase Moe scored on a scrum at 6:18 as the Green Wave quickly closed the gap to 4-3.
From there, East Grand Forks went on the power play both with 6:04 left in the third and again with 3:51 left in the third but Reierson's breakaway goal slammed the brakes on the momentum.
Despite the late drama, both coaches pointed to the 5-on-3 and its aftermath in the second period as the turning point.
"If you're able to kill (a long 5-on-3), that's a huge swell of momentum," Ammerman said. "It was something you could feel on the bench. After that 5-on-3, we played some of our best of the month or maybe the year for the remainder of the period. We were fast and hard."
Moorhead 5,EGF Senior High 3
First period – 1. M, Ian Ness (Joe Kortan,Kai Weigel) 6:26; 2. EGF, Landon Jamieson (Brock Schultz, Jace Van Eps) 6:50
Second period – 3. M, Colby Krier (Aaron Reierson, Caleb Alderson) 13:41; 4. M, Joey Simonich (Jack Arnold, Abe Carlson) 14:54; 5. M, Reierson (Mason Kraft, Krier) 15:50
Third period – 6. EGF, Schultz (Jamieson, Van Eps) 4:45; 7. EGF, Chase Moe (Nick Corbett, Jace Fore) 6:18; 8. M, Reierson (Krier) 13:37
Goalie saves – EGF: Chase Mero 5-11-2 – 18; M: Kai Weigel 13-7-12 – 32