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Chris Murphy, Published February 23 2013

Spuds headed to the sectional championship with win over Bemidji

MOORHEAD – It may have been Moorhead’s 16th straight ticket punched to the boys hockey section championship game, but for Spuds first-year coach Peter Cullen, it was No. 1.

With 10 different Spuds getting a point in a 5-1 win over Bemidji on Saturday in the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 semifinal, Cullen wasn’t touching that spotlight. He wanted it to shine on his top-seeded Spuds.

“It means a lot to me, but it’s not about me at all,” Cullen said. “It’s about those 20 kids that give their effort throughout the season. It’s not my time. It’s their time. They need to enjoy this because they deserve it.”

Even with a wrist that was smashed into the boards in the section quarterfinals, there was no way Nick Uglem was going to miss a chance at Bemidji. He didn’t even care what was wrong with him.

“It was a minor sprain with some bruising or something,” Uglem said. “There was no way I was missing this game. No matter how bad the wrist was feeling, I was going to tape it up and go.”

Uglem dished out an assist for one of his four points of the night on the first Moorhead goal off the stick of Thomas Carey. Also assisting on the play was Aaron Herdt, whose head was smashed against the boards in the quarterfinals.

Less than five minutes into the game, the Spuds showed they were more than healthy. They were hungry.

“We were ready to go,” Uglem said. “We were all just moving and playing our butts off.”

Moorhead’s second goal summed up the night for the Spuds. Eric Barker made it 2-0 with less than two minutes left in the first period on his first goal of the season off Leif Johnson’s second and Tucker Masseth’s third assists of the season. Everyone was clicking for the Spuds (13-11-2).

“It was good to score, but it was a good feed from Tucker Masseth,” Barker said. “It’s playoffs, so everyone comes together during playoffs. We played well, we’re deep and everyone can put the puck in the net.”

Less than four minutes into the second period, Matt Serratore netted his fourth goal in the last two games versus Moorhead to cut the deficit to 2-1, but Bemidji (8-17-2) would get no closer. Tony Uglem found Nick Uglem to make it a 3-1 game with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left in the second.

Before Saturday’s game, five of the last six meetings between Moorhead and Bemidji went to overtime. Austin Skejfte and Nick Uglem threw that idea out the window real quick in the third period. Skejfte found the back of the net 1:19 into the third period and Nick Uglem slammed the door 11 seconds later, making it 5-1.

Next up for Moorhead will be No. 2-seeded Brainerd Wednesday at a site to be determined.

The Spuds are 1-1 versus Brainerd (21-5) this season, defeating the Warriors 4-1 in mid-December and losing 8-5 in early January. The loss was the first time the Spuds lost to Brainerd since the 1999-2000 season and was fueled by six power-play goals for the Warriors, as the Spuds amassed 33 minutes of penalty time. It was the low point of the season for Moorhead. On Wednesday, the Spuds are looking for redemption.

“Come Wednesday our message is going to be the same,” Cullen said. “Our message all week was, ‘Move your feet. Speed, speed speed.’ I don’t see a lot of teams beating us if we play like that.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1. M, Carey (N. Uglem, Aaron Herdt), pp, 4:30. 2. M, Barker (Johnson, Masseth) 15:20.

SECOND PERIOD: 3. B, Serratore (Forseth), pp, 3:17. 4. M, N. Uglem (T. Uglem, Mehnert) 10:29.

THIRD PERIOD: 5. M, Skejfte (Mehnert) 1:19. 6. M, N. Uglem (Herdt, Holtgrewe) 1:30.

SAVES: M, Dittmer 4-8-5 17 saves. B, Heifort 10-8-14 32 saves.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548