Nate Stadheim takes a shot on goal in the second period against Owatonna Thursday night at Roy Nystrom Arena. -- Buck Monson/Albert Lea Tribune

Clutch in the 3rd period

Published 8:51am Friday, December 14, 2012

The Albert Lea boys’ hockey team pulled off a win against a strong Owatonna team Thursday night at Roy Nystrom Arena. The final score ended up 4-3 in favor of the Tigers.

“Well, I think it’s nice every time you win a game,” Tigers’ head coach Roy Nystrom said.

The first period was scoreless by both teams with the Tigers out-shooting the Huskies 9-4. The Tigers had two power plays to the Huskies’ one.

The Huskies came out strong in the second period wasting no time getting on the scoreboard. They scored just 39 seconds into the period. Four minutes later Tigers’ Van Zelenak scored with an assist by Wyatt Paulson, to tie the game up.

After Andrew Thompson was called for hooking and the Tigers were a man down, the Huskies took advantage and pulled off a power-play goal to retake the lead with 2 minutes, 7 seconds left in the second period.

Moments later the Huskies were called for high-sticking, which gave an opportunity for the Tigers to get a power-play goal. The penalty carried over to the third period, but the Tigers were unable to capitalize. The score at the end of two periods of play was 2-1 with the lead going to the Huskies.

“I think that our boys came out in the third period and took it over and just worked a little harder than they did in the first two periods and were able to put the puck in the net,” Nystrom said.

It was the Tigers’ turn to step it up in the third period. Almost three minutes into the third period, Nate Stadheim put the puck past the Huskie goalie for the power-play goal with the assist going to Darik Weigel. The goal tied the game at 2-2 and then things got a little crazy in the middle of the period.

The Tigers took their first lead of the game on a goal by Adam Herbst with 9:53 left on the clock. Herbst was assisted by Eli Malimanek and Stadheim on the play. Thirty-nine seconds later, the Huskies lit up the scoreboard to quiet the crowd in a hurry.

“We had a nice lead there for a while,” Nystrom said with a chuckle. “It wasn’t for very long. But we came right back and scored on a nice play.”

Zelenak got the crowd back up on its feet as he scored his second goal of the game 30 seconds after the Huskies silenced the crowd. Assists on the play went to Thompson and Larry Olson.

Nystrom had to call a timeout with 26 seconds remaining in the game to give the players a rest and come up with a plan. The Tigers held on and got the win after a few close chances by the Huskies in the closing moments of the game.

“We came away with the win. It was a nail-biter all the way through, there’s no question about it,” Nystrom said. “Every game we play this year is gonna be a real close one. We have to outwork our opponent to get the win, and tonight we were able to do that.”

The Tigers are now (3-2) on the year after starting the season with a (1-2) record.

“I really think that we’re making improvements every game and that’s what we are looking for,” Nystrom said. “We got a lot of young guys, a lot of young defense especially. We got a lot of junior forwards. We have to rely on our seniors, and tonight our seniors came through in the third period.”

The Tigers’ next game is Tuesday at Mankato East.

AL stats: Van Zelenak 2 goals; Adam Herbst 1 goal, 1 assist; Nathan Stadheim 1 goal; Wyatt Paulson 1 assist; Darik Weigel 1 assist; Eli Malimanek 1 assist; Andrew Thompson 1 assist; Larry Olson 1 assist