Tigers fall against Cougars

Published 9:50 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tanner Bellrichard of Albert Lea battles with Mankato East/Loyola's Joe Billiar for the puck Tuesday at Albert Lea City Arena. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Tanner Bellrichard of Albert Lea battles with Mankato East/Loyola’s Joe Billiar for the puck, which is by Billiar’s glove, Tuesday at Albert Lea City Arena. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

A flurry of shots on goal wasn’t enough to lift the Tigers.

The Albert Lea boys’ hockey team outshot Mankato East/Loyola 20-11 in the second period and 37-32 in the game but couldn’t climb back from an early deficit Tuesday during a 6-3 loss at Albert Lea City Arena.

“We had our chances in the first and second period,” said Albert Lea coach Roy Nystrom. “We took it to them for almost all of the second period, but we didn’t put the puck in the net.”

Email newsletter signup

On every goal by the Cougars, Grayson Gavin was involved. He scored the team’s first three goals, had an assist on the next two and scored last goal in the third period.

In the first period, Albert Lea fought back from a two-score deficit with a goal by Matt Carlson with 25 seconds before the first intermission. Kasey Habana and Ryan Peterson had the assists.

After Mankato East/Loyola took a four-goal lead in the second period, the Tigers answered with a pair of goals two minutes apart.

“Our kids came back,” Nystrom said. “Being down 5-1, it’s easy to quit. But they didn’t quit.”

Sam Chalmers scored unassisted to cut Albert Lea’s deficit to three goals, and Lucas Hacker lit the lamp with 4:15 left in the second period on a pass from Brady Loch to make the score 5-3. It was Chalmers’ first goal of the season and Hacker’s sixth.

Gavin’s goal in the third period gave the Cougars some breathing room.

Garrett Matz led the Tigers in the goal with 26 saves.

After winning five of six games from Dec. 2 to 20, Albert Lea (6-6 overall, 4-4 Big Nine Conference) has lost three of its last four.

Nystrom said he hopes the team can rebound in its next two games against nonconference opponents: Eveleth-Gilbert and Hibbing/Chisholm.

Eveleth is where Nystrom played as a prep athlete before he went on to play for the University of Minnesota. Last year, Hibbing/Chisholm and Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl made the trip to Albert Lea, but Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl opted out and Eveleth-Gilbert took its place.

Nystrom said he coached against his former high school when he was in North Dakota, but he hasn’t with the Albert Lea program.

“We played them three times when I was (coaching) Grand Forks, but we haven’t played them in the 42 years that I’ve been down here,” he said.

Eveleth-Gilbert (6-5-1 overall, 2-2 Iron Range Conference) is coming off a 1-1-1 showing at its home invitational. The win was a 10-4 victory over Mankato East/Loyola.

“We don’t have a soft one on the schedule,” Nystrom said. “Every game was play is going to be tough. If we play hard, I think we’ll learn a lot from it.”