Tigers fall in double OT
Published 11:42 pm Thursday, February 19, 2015
MANKATO — The Big Nine Conference champs needed double overtime to get past the Albert Lea boys’ hockey team.
“Today’s game was a battle,” said Tigers coach Roy Nystrom. “There’s no doubt about it. It was anybody’s game, and we were in their zone a lot but didn’t get a lot out of it. All we needed was one shot, but we didn’t get it.”
Albert Lea’s Alex Claassen netted his third goal of the postseason, but Mankato West scored two unanswered goals to eliminate the Tigers from the tournament 2-1 on Thursday in the Section 1A quarterfinals at All Seasons Arena.
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The gap between Albert Lea (12-15, 7-11 Big Nine) and Mankato West (18-6-2, 15-2-1 Big Nine) shrunk with each meeting.
When the teams met on Dec. 13 at All Seasons Arena, the Scarlets outshot the Tigers 29-25 and won 3-1.
In the regular-season rematch, Albert Lea showed improvement by outshooting Mankato West 38-23 on Feb. 5 at Albert Lea City Arena. However, the Scarlets scored the go-ahead goal with 28 seconds left in regulation to win 2-1.
In Thursday’s postseason matchup, Mankato West lit the lamp first, but the goal was disallowed because of interference with the goalkeeper.
With 3:49 left in the first period, Claassen scored with assists from Bergen Lundak and Austin Dulitz to give Albert Lea it’s first lead of the season against the Scarlets.
A goal by Mankato West’s Brandon Pahl tied the game, and after a scoreless third period and eight-minute overtime period, a score by Nick Spiess ended the game in the second overtime.
The Scarlets outshot the Tigers 38-13, but senior captain Garrett Matz stayed strong in the net with 36 saves.
“Our goaltender came up big for us,” Nystrom said.
Albert Lea’s season was a series of streaks. The Tigers started 0-2, won five of their next six and lost seven consecutive games by one goal during a stretch from Jan. 17 to Feb. 7. Before the loss against Mankato West, Albert Lea compiled a four-game winning streak.
“All of our boys, I’m real proud of them,” Nystrom said. “We faced a lot of adversity, but they never gave up, and they kept plugging away.”
The Tigers finished the season with a 3-5 record against competition from the top half of the Big Nine Conference and a 4-4 mark against the bottom half.
Next, Mankato West, the bracket’s No. 2 seed, will play No. 3-seed Northfield at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Rochester Recreation Center.
“You’ve got to give Mankato West all the credit in the world,” Nystrom said. “They’ve got a nice club, and they should do well in the semifinals.”
Other teams that qualified for the semifinal round with wins on Thursday were No. 1-seed New Prague with a 2-1 victory over No. 8-seed Rochester Lourdes, No. 4-seed Faribault with a 4-3 overtime win over No. 5-seed Le Sueur-Henderson and Northfield with a 4-1 win against No. 6-seed Red Wing.