Warriors take down Gophers

Published 11:01 pm Friday, November 6, 2015

Waldorf's Rodney Engstrom controls the puck in the offensive zone Friday against Minnesota at Albert Lea City Arena. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Waldorf’s Rodney Engstrom controls the puck in the offensive zone Friday against Minnesota at Albert Lea City Arena. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

A season-high nine goals lifted the Waldorf hockey team to its seventh consecutive win.

Christian Weber, Conor Luck and Matthew Liggett each scored twice to build an 8-1 Warriors lead en route to a 9-4 victory over Minnesota Friday at Albert Lea City Arena.

“We’re working hard all around,” Weber said. “At practice there’s a lot of good battles, and in the weight room we push each other. During games, we’re doing the best we can and selling out for each other.”

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Waldorf (11-6, Northern Collegiate Hockey League), ranked No. 10 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Division 2 Central Region polls, has given up the first goal in four of its last five outings before roaring back to win on each occasion.

“It’s good to see the resilience, but you don’t want to fall behind the eight-ball early,” said Warriors coach Brett Shelanski. “We want to see better starts, and that’s something we’ve talked about.”

After Minnesota’s Joe Kavanaugh found the net 6:25 into the first period, Waldorf responded with eight unanswered goals.

Weber scored the equalizer 13 minutes into the first period with assists from Robert Danyo and Travis Park.

“I’ve been having success, but I can only credit that to the people who I’ve been playing with,” Weber said.

Conor Luck netted the Warriors’ go-ahead goal on a pass from Buddy Napier 1:14 after Weber’s score.

In the second period, Waldorf outscored Minnesota (2-5 overall) 4-0.

Weber’s second goal extended the Warriors’ advantage to 3-1.

“He’s especially been coming on lately, which is good because we need that from him,” Shelanski said about Weber. “We need his production.”

Alex Fleming added a goal about five minutes later, and Matt Liggett, who led the team with four points, scored back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart.

In the third period, goals by Waldorf’s Jeff Bartel and Luck boosted the lead to 8-1.

With 16:24 left in regulation, the Warriors swapped goalie Ronald Paulson for Bruno Novotny, and Minnesota scored three goals in the next 2:09. However, Novotny settled in and didn’t allow another goal the rest of the game.

Waldorf hadn’t allowed more than two goals in its previous six games and outshot Minnesota 48-26.

“We know (defense) needs to be a strength of ours,” Shelanski said. “That’s how we need to play in our own end to limit the number of chances (our opponents have).”

Look for results from Game 2 of the series between the Warriors and Gophers in Monday’s Tribune.

After the series with Minnesota, Waldorf will play at 8 p.m. Friday and 3:45 p.m. Saturday at Lindenwood, the No. 1 team in the Central Region.

“The second half of our season began tonight, and it doesn’t get any easier,” Shelanski said. “It’s been a good start, we’ve been playing good hockey and we obviously want to continue to do that.”