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Chris Murphy, Published January 10 2013

Brainerd tops Moorhead in boys hockey for first time since 1999 season

MOORHEAD – Like the roads, things are getting icy for Moorhead’s boys hockey team.

The Spuds slipped up again Thursday, falling 8-5 to Brainerd at the Moorhead Sports Center. It’s hard to imagine things getting lower for the Spuds after the loss.

The Spuds had 11 penalties for 33 minutes, while six Warriors goals came on the power play.

Moorhead lost to a team with a 4-38-1 record against it, and one the Spuds hadn’t lost to since the 1999-2000 season coming into the game.

It marked Moorhead’s fourth straight loss, dropping the Spuds to 7-7-1 overall on the season.

The scoreboard, however, tells the story better than any box score or history lesson.

“The worst part about the game was the outcome by far,” Cullen said. “Our guys got a little bit out of control. There’s some games where the refs are going to allow extra hacks or slashes, but tonight wasn’t one of those games. They were calling it pretty tight and frustration and emotion got the best of us. They are still high school kids and sometimes emotions get the best of you and it bites you in the butt.”

Brainerd took a 3-1 lead into the second period, but a back-handed goal from John O’Connor pulled Moorhead within one early in the second frame. Then the wheels came off, as the Spuds committed eight penalties for 27 minutes worth of penalty time and the Warriors scored four unanswered power play goals.

“I’m not so sure every call was even, but there’s nothing you can do about it after the call is made,” Cullen said. “You have to respect the official. It makes the game hard to play when you can only play four guys at a time. You can’t roll your lines and you’re always fighting it. You have to battle through it, and unfortunately, tonight, we weren’t able to.”

Moorhead came out firing in the third period, as Alex Mehnert punched home a goal to make it 7-4 and Aaron Herdt’s slap shot found the back of the net to make it 7-5 with more than 15 minutes remaining. Jacob Ellingson delivered the back breaker on his third goal of the game to give Brainerd an 8-5 cushion with a little more than 13 minutes left.

Moorhead had fallen to three ranked opponents in Class 2A – No. 4 Wayzata 4-3, No. 7 Duluth East 5-1 and No. 14 Elk River-Zimmerman 8-3 – in its previous three games. Facing a Brainerd team that had won five straight was probably not the best medicine for an ailing team.

“I know what we have inside the locker room,” Cullen said. “I know what this team has when they play together. It was evident in the third when we had 15 shots to their one, so we can bring it. It was too little too late.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. B, Smith (Pohlkamp), 2:11. 2. M, P. O’Connor (N. Uglem, Herdt), 5:47. 3. B, Ellingson (Pohlkamp), pp, 6:24. 4. B, Campbell, pp, 15:29.

SECOND PERIOD: 5. M, J. O’Connor 2:08. 6. B, Ellingson (Pohlkamp), pp, 6:59. 7. B, Rivard (Pohlkamp), pp, 9:42. 8. Campbell (Fussy, Stoxen), pp, 9:54. 9. Pohlkamp (Thelen), pp, 13:20. 10. M, Carey (A. Uglem) 14:39.

THIRD PERIOD: 11. M, Mehnert (A. Uglem) 1:52. 12. M, Herdt 2:35. 13. B, Ellingson (Rivard) 4:44.

SAVES: M, MacFarlane 10-7-x 17 saves, Dittmer x-6-0 6 saves. B, Helmberger 9-11-15 35 saves.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548