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Jeff Kolpack, Published February 21 2010

Boys hockey: Hill-Murray nips Spuds

Several Hill-Murray seniors posed for a picture before leaving the ice at the Moorhead Sports Center Saturday night.

It was appropriate considering the Pioneers and Moorhead High went wire-to-wire in a photo finish.

The Spuds fell short, 3-2, to the fourth-ranked team in Minnesota Class 2A.

It was the St. Paul school’s 15th win in its last 16 tries and this one took every minute.

Chris Casto’s goal with seven minutes left in the game was the winner, leaving the Spuds with a close-but-not-quite feeling.

“It would have been nice to get the win,” said Moorhead center Kyle Kraemer. “But we know we’re right there with every team in the state.”

Kraemer had both of Moorhead’s goals. The Spuds dropped to 12-10-2, but the schedule appears to have them battle ready.

Of the 24 games, 17 have come against ranked teams in either Class 2A or Class 1A.

“We’re making progress,” said Moorhead coach Dave Morinville.

The Spuds made it an even battle in the first period, out-worked the Pioneers in the second to set the stage for a chance in the third period.

Kraemer’s two goals got them there.

His second put the Spuds ahead in the waning minutes of the second period. Kraemer took a pass from a face-off scramble and slid a low liner past Hill-Murray goalie Tim Shaughnessy and the Spuds took a 2-1 lead heading into the final period.

“In the locker room, we said we can’t play not to lose,” Kraemer said. “We have to keep it on them.”

But the Pioneers tied it with 11:35 remaining when Ryan Holler’s shot beat a screened goalie Michael Bitzer to his high stick side. With Kraemer in the penalty box for holding, the Pioneers took the lead four minutes later on Casto’s shot from the wing that snaked by Bitzer.

“You have to work hard for your bounces,” Kraemer said. “It’s just the way it works.”

Moorhead looked back at the first period as a chance to make a difference. The Spuds had four power plays, but capitalized on just one.

“We should have buried it there,” Morinville said.

The Spuds will take the No. 1 seed into the Class 2A, Section 8 tournament hosting the No. 8 seed Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Moorhead Sports Center.

“It’s nice that we’re peaking heading into the playoffs,” Kraemer said.

FIRST PERIOD: 1, H-M, McCallum (Phillipi), 4:35. 1, MHD, Kraemer (Larson, Rahman), pp, 14:55. Penalties: H-M 4, MHD 1.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, MHD, Kraemer (Cook, Rahman), 12:51. Penalties: H-M 2, MHD 2.

THIRD PERIOD: 2, H-M, Holler (Walsh), 5:25. 3, H-M, Casto (Faust, Becker) pp, 10:09. Penalties: H-M 0, MHD 1.

SAVES: H-M, Shaughnessy 8-9-7–24

MHD, Bitzer, 7-8-9–24.

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Moorhead Spuds hockey

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Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546