Thunder comes close to first win of season

Published 8:25 am Monday, October 13, 2008

The Albert Lea Thunder played some of its best hockey of the season but it wasn’t enough Saturday as it fell 5-4 to the North Iowa Outlaws in Mason City, Iowa.

The Thunder (0-7-1) couldn’t overcome a three goal deficit after the first period despite outplaying the Outlaws (5-3-1) in the final two periods.

Albert Lea scored three goals in the second period as it reversed its second period fortunes drastically.

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“Our second period was unbelievable,” Thunder head coach Brad Zangs said.

Albert Lea had been outscored 17-2 in the second period, but that all changed Saturday against the Outlaws.

Zach Lewis scored his first goal of the season at the 12:23 mark after Jake Armijo collected a turnover in the neutral zone and skated into the North Iowa zone. Lewis trailed and crashed the net on an Armijo shot and found the twine to cut the Outlaw lead to 4-1.

But then nearly a minute later Albert Lea forward Matt Sempeck was checked from behind and Lewis and other Thunder players took exception. A fight broke out between several Albert Lea and North Iowa players that resulted in the ejection of Lewis, Armijo and Outlaw player Joe Harren. The fight seemed to spark the Thunder as it scored two goals before the end of the period and drew the game to 5-3.

Mitch Torrel scored his second goal of the season at the 18:47 mark in the second period and Ian Braun scored his first goal of the season 17 seconds later.

Albert Lea rolled that momentum into the third period and Danny Wood scored his fourth goal of the season 2:07 into the period which made the game 5-4 but that’s as close as it would get.

“The second period was our best period by far in the season,” Zangs said. “We kept on battling and one thing that we can take away is that we won the second period and the third period.”

While the fight didn’t please Zangs he said it was good to see the players stand up for each other.

“I think they kind of united and after the two fights and they said, ‘Enough is enough,” Zangs said. “I think a lot of kids got a lot of experience.”

Albert Lea outshot the Outlaws in the third period 11-9 and finished with 30 shots in the game. North Iowa finished with 40 shots, but Zangs said the defense did a good job of limiting quality shooting opportunities.

Mat Rabin started in goal and turned away 35 of the 40 shots he faced in the game.

The power play, which had struggled early in the season, showed improvement as well as the Thunder scored on two of its three power plays.

The four goals were the most Albert Lea has scored this season and was yet another sign that the team is starting to move in the right direction after a sluggish start to the season.

Zangs credited the increase in scoring to the fact that the team made a point of crashing the net after shots and taking more high percentage shots.

Although it wasn’t a win, Zangs said it was the best game the team has played this season. Now the key will be getting the same kind of performance Friday against Alexandria, a team that defeated Albert Lea 8-2 last Saturday.

1st 2nd 3rd Total

Albert Lea – 0 3 1 4

North Iowa – 3 2 0 5


1st period: North Iowa – Jack Paul 1 (Jon Crouse, Ryan Peltoma) 9:19

North Iowa – Brandon Brodhag 6 (Ryan Peltoma) 12:13

North Iowa – Anthony Riaola 3 (Derek Donohoe, Cory Belisle) 15:48

2nd period: North Iowa – Joe Harren 3 (Ryan Peltoma, Derek Donohoe) 4:09

Albert Lea – Zach Lewis 1 (Jake Armijo) 12:23

Albert Lea – Mitch Torrel 2 (power play) (Danny Wood) 18:47

Albert Lea – Ian Braun 1 (Jeff Lesmeister) 19:04

North Iowa – Joe Harcharik 1 (Rob Johnson, Anthony Raiola) 19:47

3rd period: Albert Lea – Wood 4 (power play) (Tom Glomski) 2:07

POWER-PLAY CONVERSION: Albert Lea — 2 for 3, North Iowa — 1 for 8,

SHOTS ON GOAL: 1st 2nd 3rd Total

Albert Lea 6 14 11 31 North Iowa 17 14 9 40