Albert Lea's Van Zelenak battles Austin's Conor Peterson for control of the puck. Albert Lea defeated Austin 5-1 at Roy Nystrom Arena. -- Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

A.L. wins 3rd straight

Published 10:21am Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Albert Lea boys’ hockey team jumped out to an early lead and played aggressively until the final buzzer in a 5-1 win over Austin.

The victory is the Tigers’ third in a row. Over that stretch, Albert Lea has outscored its opponents a combined 13-3.

Roy Nystrom, Albert Lea’s head coach, said he was pleased with his teams’ execution.

“We made some nice passes, and we made some nice goals,” he said. “It was a total team effort.”

Joshua Martin, a senior defenseman from Albert Lea pushes the puck up the ice against Austin. -- Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

The Tigers got off to a great start. Junior wing Andrew Thompson scored a goal only six minutes into the match on a pass from fellow junior wing Lucas Peterson.

About five minutes later, Peterson scored a goal of his own on a pass from senior defenseman Josh Martin.

Austin managed to light up its side of the scoreboard with only 45 seconds left in the first period to cut its deficit to one goal.

In the second period, Albert Lea struck again. This time it was an unassisted short-handed goal by sophomore wing Alex Claassen.

The Tigers took a 3-1 lead.

In the third period, Albert Lea pushed its lead to three goals. Senior center Larry Olson found the net unassisted with just over six minutes remaining.

With only five seconds left in the final period, the Tigers scored another goal, just as Austin had at the end of the first period. Senior wing Aspen Heilman earned the goal, while Thompson and Van Zelenak were credited with the assist.

Just 10 days ago, the Tigers were in a six-game slump, but Albert Lea has come alive on the offensive and defensive sides of the ice.

Anchoring Albert Lea’s defense was sophomore goalkeeper Garret Matz. Austin shot the puck 17 times, and Matz only allowed one goal.

“He wasn’t tested very much,” Nystrom said. “But, when he was, he came up big.”

Even though the Tigers doubled the Packers’ shots on goal, Nystrom said he doesn’t put much stock in that statistic.

“Shots on goal don’t tell you much,” he said. “Of our 35 shots on goal, I’d say we had a good 15, 16 excellent scoring chances.”

Albert Lea’s record improves to 7-8 on the season.

Next, the Tigers host Rochester John Marshall on Thursday.

“It’s going to be a big game for us, but they’re all big games for us right now,” Nystrom said. “If we play like we did tonight, we’ll have a chance.

Albert Lea 5, Austin 1

Albert Lea 2 1 2 — 5

Austin 1 0 0 — 1

First Period

AL — Andrew Thompson (Lucas Peterson), 11:00

AL — Peterson (Joshua Martin), 6:16

AU— Tony Baudler (Marcus Stoulil), 0:45

Second Period

AL — Alex Claassen (unassisted), 10:03

Third Period

AL — Larry Olson (unassisted), 6:12

AL — Aspen Heilman (Thompson, Van Zelenak), 0:05