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Published January 23 2011

Spuds goaltender Bitzer helps Moorhead upend Warroad

Big crowds. Big hits. Big goals.

These things are the expectations that come with the Moorhead boys hockey team. Minnesota’s No. 13 team in Class 2A lived up to the expectations, delivering a 4-1 win over Class 1A No. 10 Warroad on Saturday night at the Moorhead Sports Center in front of what was the largest home crowd this season.

“We played spotty in that first period,” said Moorhead head coach Dave Morinville. “We talked after the first period, made some adjustments and they played well.”

Where to begin with what this meant. Let’s start with the obvious. The win was the fifth consecutive victory for Moorhead (11-4-1). The last time the Spuds won five straight regular season games was 2009, when they made an unexpected trip to the state tournament and finished second. They’ve outscored opponents 22-4 in that stretch.

It was also a win against another ranked team, bringing Moorhead to 3-3-1 against teams currently ranked in the Class 2A or Class 1A poll. No. 10 Warroad (11-6) cracked the Top 10 in this week’s Class 1A poll.

Warroad held Moorhead scoreless and forced goalie Michael Bitzer to make 11 saves.

Bitzer holding his own is really nothing new. That’s what he does and in the second period his teammates rewarded him.

Captain Ben Doda scored first for a 1-0 lead. Simon Selberg followed minutes later for a 2-0 lead.

Add Tony Uglem. The youngest of the three Uglem brothers on the roster flew down the left wing with a defenseman draped on him, flicked his wrist and boom.

The score was Moorhead 3, Warroad 0.

“That first period was horrible and coach let us know it,” said Doda, whose line scored two goals. “He told us that we have an ice time reservation with our names on it if we didn’t pick it up.”

Scoring wasn’t enough. It was what Moorhead did defensively too. The penalty kill was perfect and aggressive, killing all 11 penalties.

Warroad was forced to shoot from the point, and limiting them allowed Bryant Christian to take advantage during the second period. He poked his stick out on a 5-on-3, grabbed the puck and if it’s not for Warroad quickly recovering on defense, Christian’s looking at a breakaway.

Even on a 5-on-4 chance for Warroad, it was Moorhead that created a 2-on-1 chance.

Warroad cut it to 3-1 with 12:26 left, but it was still one of the few times it crashed the net.

Finally, there was bite from Moorhead, which has gone through its fair share of troubles lately, most notably a five-game stretch where it missed players because of a suspension following a hazing investigation.

Whatever questions there might have been in the first post-suspensions game regarding solidarity were answered. If a Warrior player got near Bitzer, they paid a price the price for it.

If there was a faceoff near the Moorhead bench, the poor Warroad player closest, definitely heard a mouthful from the players on the bench.

Basically, Moorhead wasn’t having any of it.

“We wanted to send a message,” said Selberg, who was moved from defense to forward. “We’ve got a big section game against Roseau on Tuesday and we wanted to show people we’re not going to lay down or push us around.”

FIRST PERIOD: NO SCORING

SECOND PERIOD: 1. M, Doda (Julin), 1:13. 2. M, Selberg (Kunkel, Oxton), 2:11. 3. M, T. Uglem (Leabo, J. Uglem) 9:17.

THIRD PERIOD: 4. W, Anderson (Streiff, Miller) 4:44. 5. M, Doschadis (unassisted), 16:20.

SAVES: M, Bitzer 11-12-11 34 saves W, Foster 5-12-8 25 saves

Inforum searchword: Moorhead Spuds

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548