Blades open with tourney triumph

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 22, 2002

MASON CITY, Iowa – The Albert Lea Blades kicked off the 2002-03 season by winning a weekend tournament hosted by the Mason City Navigators. The Blades, who won the Upper Midwest Hockey League title in their inaugural season last year, went 3-0 in the round-robin tourney.

The locals opened against the Mason City Navigators, a team they beat twice last year when they were the North Iowa Area Community College Trojans. It was close this time, but Albert Lea won 3-2 behind a pair of goals by Travis Brua, who netted the gamewinner with about six minutes remaining. Jason Fornwald was the goalie. Shots on goal were 28-28.

“It was a real hard fought game,” said Fornwald, the team’s general manager. “We played this team a couple times last year but they were always shorthanded. It was a different story this time. They had 14 skaters. They’ve got a nice squad when they have a full team there.”

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Next was the Austin Ice Hawks, a team that beat the Blades twice in their summer tournament. Albert Lea avenged the losses with a one-sided 11-3 decision. Mike Carlson scored twice and played a very strong game defensively. Marty Anderson, Justin Bolinger and Don Savelkoul also had two goals apiece. Mike Nelson scored one. Fornwald was in the net as Albert Lea outshot Austin 35-27.

“It was nice to get them back,” said Fornwald.

The opponent in the championship game was the Cedar Rapids Devils, who were also 2-0 going in. Albert Lea won 5-4.

“They’re a real good team, with younger players and fast skaters,” said Fornwald.

Anderson scored twice as did Bolinger, whose second goal gave the Blades a 5-3 lead midway through the second period. Jason Ferrington, a new addition to the team, also scored. Fornwald was again in goal, coming up with some big saves. Shots on goal were 46-37 in favor of Albert Lea.

“Our guys played hard,” said Fornwald. “Cedar Rapids has a nice team. We played well and go the win.”

Fornwald will meet with other representatives on Sunday to organize the Southern Minnesota Hockey League, which in addition to the Blades is expected to include Austin, Mason City, two teams from Rochester, and possibly Waseca and Mankato.