Thunder win regular season finale

Published 12:51 am Monday, March 29, 2010

The Albert Lea Thunder blew a three-goal lead but rallied to beat Alexandria Sunday at City Arena in the regular season finale and enter the playoffs with some momentum.

The Thunder escaped with a 6-5 overtime victory over the Blizzard after having led 4-1 early in the second period to give Albert Lea a sloppy victory over a playoff-caliber team and more importantly a victory against a team other than North Iowa.

“There’s a lot of talk that yeah, we’re doing good, but we beat one team,” said Thunder forward Brett Meyers, who scored the game-winner. “Now that we beat other teams that gives us a confidence boost.”

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Albert Lea will return to Bismarck Friday and Saturday to begin the playoffs and return to City Arena the following weekend for the best-of-five series. The Bobcats outscored the Thunder 10-4 this weekend, but Albert Lea rested many of its regulars in Bismarck.

Though the Thunder got a much-needed victory against a playoff team like Alexandria, which finished third in the Central Division, Albert Lea head coach Chuck Linkenheld said his team hasn’t come close to playing at a playoff-type caliber.

“Four to one it should have been game over,” Linkenheld said. “(I) still don’t think we’re playing playoff-type hockey.”

Albert Lea grabbed a 4-1 lead early into the second period behind a series of deflected shots that found the back of the net and after the Blizzard had taken a 1-0 lead.

Chris Cass deflected Harry Quast’s shot from the point in the first period to tie the game. Anthony Iaquinto made it 2-1 with an unassisted goal and Brett Meyers had a shot hit the pipe and drop in to build a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period.

“Sometimes they fall for you and sometimes they don’t,” said Meyers, who hit three pipes on the evening. “You just have to keep shooting the puck.”

After Luke Jenkins scored a power-play goal 1 minute, 28 seconds into the third, Alexandria started its comeback.

Alex Altenbernd scored twice in the second period and made it 4-3 entering the third.

In the third Nardo Nagtzaam and Kyle Clay gave the Blizzard a 5-4 lead.

“We went up 4-1 and just kind of got too loose,” Meyers said.

Matt Johnson scored with 14:31 to play in regulation and quelled the Alexandria comeback.

Joe Rogers earned his 13th victory of the season and made 40 saves in goal for the Thunder.

Albert Lea 6, Alexandria 5 OT

Alexandria 1 2 2 0 — 5

Albert Lea 3 1 1 1 — 6

First Period—1, Alexandria, Steve Zierke 23 (Alex Altenbernd), 0:38 (pp.). 2, Albert Lea, Chris Cass 13 (Harry Quast), 15:39. 3, Albert Lea, Anthony Iaquinto 20 (unassisted), 15:53. 4, Albert Lea, Brett Meyers 8 (Derek Docken, Zack Smoot), 18:14. Penalties—Smoot, Alb (tripping), 0:17; Niko Kapetanovic, Alb (high sticking), 4:24; Meyers, Alb (hooking), 6:39; Nick Christenson, Alx (slashing), 17:02; Luke Jenkins, Alb (tripping), 18:56; Brett Wall, Alx (elbowing), 19:50.

Second Period—5, Albert Lea, Jenkins 3 (Kapetanovic), 1:28 (pp.). 6, Alexandria, Altenbernd 19 (Zierke), 9:43. 7, Alexandria, Altenbernd 20 (Zierke, Simon Cederborg-Nilsson), 16:18. Penalties—Quast, Alb (interference), 6:00; Chris Franks, Alx (tripping), 10:42; Alex Niestrom, Alb (checking from behind), 17:58.

Third Period—8, Alexandria, Nardo Nagtzaam 24 (Tyler Resch, Kyle Clay), 3:16. 9, Alexandria, Clay 21 (Wall, Nagtzaam), 4:09. 10, Albert Lea, Matt Johnson 5 (Iaquinto, Brandon Lubin), 6:29. Penalties—Johnson, Alb (delay of game bench minor), 0:00; Lubin, Alb (slashing), 3:49; Zierke, Alx (tripping), 17:16.

Shots on Goal—Alexandria 17-14-12-1—45. Albert Lea 16-15-11-1—43.

Power-play opportunities—Alexandria 2 of 8; Albert Lea 2 of 4.

Goalies—Alexandria, Jimmy Hamby 0-1-1 (43 shots, 37 saves). Albert Lea, Joe Rogers 13-19-2 (45-40).

A—550. T—2:15.

Referee—Phil Stodgell. Linesmen—Sam Shikowsky, Joe Demizio.