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Chris Murphy, Published December 01 2012

Spuds fall to defending champs in home opener

MOORHEAD – Pete Cullen has far more important things to think about than the interim tag he has in his first year as Moorhead’s boys hockey coach.

“I don’t think of it at all,” Cullen said. “Every coach in the state has a one-year contract, so it’s something we all deal with. I have a team to think about and boys to take care of.”

One tag that is certainly not questionable is the defending state champion tag pinned on Benilde-St. Margaret’s, as the Red Knights opened the season with a 6-1 win over Moorhead in the Spuds’ home opener.

“We certainly found out where we’re not,” Cullen said. “We need to grind teams down, wear them down and shoot from anywhere. We can’t be looking for pretty little plays. We need to get greasy goals in front of the net.”

Playing the defending state champs in the second game of the season shows Moorhead (1-1) where they stand and where they need to be to play championship-caliber hockey on the bigger stage late in the season.

“They pass, they shoot, most of them have great vision, they work well together and they communicate,” Cullen said. “All those things I just said they do, we need to do.”

Benilde-St. Margaret’s wasted no time, scoring 54 seconds into the game when Grant Besse found T.J. Moore in the slot for a top-shelf goal. Moore returned the favor just under seven minutes later, finding Besse for a power play goal to make it 2-0 Red Knights.

The Red Knights added three goals in the second period to take an insurmountable 5-0 lead into the final frame. Besse struck again on the power play to make it 3-0, Alec Baer scored less than a minute later to make it 4-0 and Spencer Naas deked two Moorhead defenders to make it 5-0.

“We need to eliminate time and space with a team like that and play more physical,” Cullen said. “If we do that, we’ll have a chance in the third period. If it’s a grind out game, we can grind it out.”

Will Borgen scored the only tally for Moorhead on a power play goal midway through the third period, but Besse answered again for Benilde-St. Margaret’s, scoring a goal which proved why replays were created. Besse split two Spuds defenders and rifled a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Spuds goalie Peter MacFarlane as he was falling to the ground with the Spuds on the 5-on-3 advantage. It capped a rough night for Moorhead.

“Well, he scored five in the state tournament, so he’s picking up right where he left off,” Cullen said. “It was a nice goal. Goal scorers find a way to get the puck to the net. They just shoot it, they don’t look and it just goes in because they know where the net is. The net doesn’t move.”

Moorhead will play at Scheels Arena Tuesday.

FIRST PERIOD: 1. B, Moore (Labosky, Bess), 0:54. 2. B, Besse (Moore), pp, 7:16. SECOND PERIOD: 3. B, Besse (Labosky, Austin), pp, 0:37. 4. B, Baer, 1:17. 5. B, Naas (Hale), 6:57. THIRD PERIOD: 6. M, Borgen (Herdt), pp, 8:41. 7. B, Besse (Moore), shorthanded, 9:16. SAVES: M, MacFarlane 9-5-10 24 saves. B, Sprang 3-11-7 21 saves.

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Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548