Hill-Murray, North take wins in boys' hockey

The South St. Paul Packers traveled to Oakdale Dec. 17 to meet the Tartan Titans in a Classic Suburban Conference (CSC) boys' hockey game.

The opposing team left the arena with a 3-1 victory over the Titans and early season record of 4-1-1. The Packers are 1-0 in the CSC.

South St. Paul dominated the first period using their fore-check skills and tenacity against the Titans.

Tartan faltered with an interference penalty and the Packers' Jake Burke attempted to score.

Justin Holmberg, the Titans' goalie, blocked the shot.

Mitch Fitzgerald picked up the rebound but the puck bounced of Holmberg's pads for another missed goal.

Mick Grundtner was on hand for the Packers to shoot the puck high under the cross bar on the short side at 13:11.

The Packers posted a 1-0 lead on the power play as the game moved into the second session.

Tartan came on in the second period with a bit more bounce in their steps and Zach Ledman traveled into the South St. Paul zone for an early goal attempt.

The Packers blocked the shot and turned their attention to the Titans' goal.

The Packers skated off their second penalty of the contest and an ensuing scramble in front of the Tartan goal saw Billy Brandecker slip the puck to David Gunderman, who found pay dirt for a 2-0 lead at 5:50 of the second stanza. 

The Titans had little success in gaining territorial rights over the Packers and the second period ended with the 2-0 score on the board.

Tartan finished the second period with an 18-7 advantage in goal attempts.

In the third period, the Titans continued to pummel the Packers' goal but goalie Jeremy Balster was always one step ahead of the puck.

South St. Paul then rushed into the Tartan zone and Jason Balster passed to Drew LaBrosse at the left point..

Tartan goalie Evan Hauser stopped LaBrosse's shot and the rebound bounced back toward the goal zone.

Grundtner waited at the doorstep and slammed the puck into the net for his second goal of the game

The Packers' earned their three-point lead with 13:58 remaining on the clock in the final period.

Play continued with the Titans short one player and they managed to score against the Packers.

Jake Jackson picked off a loose pass and skated toward the Packers' goal. Jackson crossed the Packers' blue line, shifted his path around the defense line, and rushed toward the net at 11:24.

The Titans could not close the gap any further and South St. Paul left the arena with a 3-1 win.

"We played much better in the second and third periods, but we can't not take advantage of our opportunities," said Tartan co-head coach Jim McElmury.

"We had a lot of chances and didn't cash in on any of them. We had too many man advantages (Tartan went 0-for-6 on the power play) and didn't make a goal on any of them," McElmury said. "You just can't not score when you have chances like that and expect to win many games."

When asked about his thoughts on the game, South St. Paul head coach Jeff Lagoo said, "We had a good effort tonight. We had control of the first period but their goalie came up with some big saves. Then our goalie had to step up and keep us from losing the game. We got off to a rather slow start this year because of the long football season, but we are starting to come around now. This is the first game we've had where we had everyone back and healthy. Hopefully we can continue to stay that way as we get into more conference games."

Hill-Murray 3 - Mahtomedi 1
The Hill-Murray Pioneers faced the Mahtomedi Zephyrs Dec. 15 at Aldrich Arena. The Pioneers finished the game with a 3-1 margin over the visiting team.

Hill-Murray's Jake Guentzel had a 3-point evening with a goal and a pair of assists.

The first period was nearly over before the Pioneers scored their first goal of the game.

Guentzel passed to Charlie Sampair and he blasted the puck into the back of Mahtomedi's net with 13:25 on the clock.

The Pioneers scored the game-winning goal when Andy Faust combined with Guentzel on a pass to Sam Becker. The junior forward wasted no time in sending the puck directly into the net at 11:35 into the second period

Mahtomedi was short one player on the ice and Guentzel capitalized on the opportunity with a straight shot into the Zephyrs' net off a pass from a teammate.

Hill-Murray reached their three points on the power-play goal at 8:05 into the third period.

With just over a minute left on the clock, the Zephyrs finally found the combination to the Hill-Murray safe. 

Tanner Mireault passed to Boo McQuaid with 15:53 on the clock and the Zephyrs scored against Hill-Murray. McQuaid's goal closed out the scoring during the game and sent the Pioneers off the ice with their third CSC win this season.

The loss dropped the Zephyrs' record to 2-1 in CSC action.   

North 6 - Sibley 3
On Dec. 10, the North Polars hosted the Sibley Warriors in a CSC boys' hockey fray. 

Three third period unanswered goals spelled the difference in the game as North broke free from a two-period 3-3 deadlock.

The Polars opened the scoring when George Splichal powered the puck into the back twines at 6:28 into the contest for a 1-0 lead. 

The Warriors countered with a goal when Jake Lampelius sent a pass to the stick of Joey Affolter, who found an opening in the Polars' territory at 11:50. 

The first period ended with the teams tied at 1-1.

Sibley moved to a one-goal margin in the second period when -

with the Polars at a man advantage - Chris Napier picked up a loose puck and went in to score a shorthanded goal at 8:21.

Continuing with their extra player, North responded with their own point on a pass from Splichal to Justin Oliver.

The sophomore sharpshooter found a niche in the Sibley armor at 9:11 for a power-play goal.

The Polars moved to an advantage on another power play when Splichal fed the disc to Justin Oliver and he sent it to Tyler Oliver, who increased North's lead to 3-2 at 11:18.

Less than 2 minutes later, the Warriors tied the game at 3-3 on a pass from

Adam Stenhaug to T.J. Lang and the junior sent the puck into the Polars' net at 13:04.

The Polars came back in the start of the third period with plans to score on a pass from Dillon Ostertag to Tyler Oliver and then Justin Oliver.

The sophomore forward one-timed a blast into the back mesh for the game-winner at 6:28 of the third period.

North continued on a power play and Dan Otis fired a shot from the blue line that Sibley blocked at the net.

Splichal picked up the rebound and wasted no time lighting the fuse on a blast that sent the puck between the Sibley posts. North pulled ahead to a 5-3 tally with Splichal's goal at 10:42 into the third period.

Splichal finished the game with two goals and an assist.

Justin Oliver carried the Polars' lead home with his third goal, unassisted, and had a four point game overall.

The win pushed North to an overall record of 5-0 and 1-0 in CSC action. 

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