Tigers take down Packers

Published 3:32 pm Saturday, December 20, 2014

Matt Carlson, middle, of Albert Lea skates past Austin's Ethan Morey, left, and Alex Ciola Saturday at Albert Lea City Arena. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Matt Carlson, middle, of Albert Lea skates past Austin’s Ethan Morey, left, and Alex Ciola Saturday at Albert Lea City Arena. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

With its second consecutive shutout, the Albert Lea boys’ hockey team beat Austin for the 17th straight time.

“I don’t keep track of that,” said Tigers coach Roy Nystrom. “I know they haven’t beaten us in a long time, but our boys played hard, and the Austin kids played well too.”

Alex Claassen scored both of Albert Lea’s goals in the first period, and the Tigers beat Austin 5-0 Saturday at Albert Lea City Arena.

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Claassen’s first goal was less than two minutes after the opening faceoff.

“I picked the puck up in the neutral zone and moved it across the ice to (Lucas) Hacker,” Claassen said. “He threw it to me in front of the net, and I just buried it.”

The second goal was scored on a rebound by Claassen after a shot by Brady Loch was blocked.

Also contributing on both scores was Jack Pulley, who had three assists. Pulley, Claassen and Hacker comprise Albert Lea’s first line, and a combination of the three scored the goal and had one of the two assists on the first three scores.

“We’ve got some chemistry,” Claassen said.

After a goal by Hacker to start the second period, Wyatt Paulsen darted down the ice to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead with less than a minute left in the period.

Bergen Lundak added Albert Lea’s final goal on a pass from Lucas Hacker 10 minutes into the third period.

After recovering from the flu, Garrett Matz, a senior captain, was back in the goal for the Tigers. He had 23 saves.

“Garrett was on top of his game today,” Nystrom said. “There’s no doubt about it. He played well.”

Before the varsity game, the Tigers’ JV team kept its perfect record intact by beating the Packers 3-1.

“Our JV is 8-0, and this was their toughest game so far,” Nystrom said. “Austin played a lot of their varsity kids against our JV, and our kids did pretty well.”

Next, Albert Lea (5-3 overall, 4-3 Big Nine Conference) will play at 6 p.m. Tuesday at New Prague (7-2 overall, 2-1 Wright County Conference). The Trojans started 6-0 but lost their last two games: 2-0 against Orono (3-4 overall) Thursday at home and 6-1 Saturday at Hermantown (6-2 overall).

The Tigers began the season 0-2, but they’ve won five of their last six games and outscored their opponents 19-8 during that span.