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Chris Murphy, Published January 23 2014

Moorhead boys hockey continues hot streak with win over St. Cloud Tech

MOORHEAD – After three overtime games in Moorhead’s last four and six overtime games out of 18 on the season, the Spuds may have forgotten what to do after the third period when overtime isn’t needed.

They got to go home Thursday after three periods with a 5-1 win over St. Cloud Tech at Moorhead Sports Center.

“That was good,” said Moorhead captain Grant Weiss of being done in regulation. “That hasn’t happened in a while.”

Not playing overtime may have been new to Moorhead (9-8-1), but beating St. Cloud Tech was not. The Spuds moved to 10-0-1 over the Tigers in the last 11 matchups, outscoring Tech 72-11 during that time. The win pushed the Spuds to 4-1-1 in their last six and 5-1-1 in section play.

“We did a good job of taking advantage of the plays that were there,” Moorhead coach Jon Ammerman said. “We had a few guys jump on some opportunities and make some plays. For us, it’s a good game to come home to.”

It was three consecutive losses in late December that sparked Moorhead’s recent surge to move above .500 for the first time in nearly a month.

The three losses, part of a five-game losing streak for the Spuds, were at the Benilde-St. Margaret’s tournament. A 3-2 loss to No. 4-ranked Wayzata, a 4-2 loss to No. 10-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret’s and a 4-3 overtime loss to No. 15-ranked Maple Grove left the Spuds hungry to prove themselves.

“The biggest thing is we got kids that are starting to believe in themselves,” Ammerman said. “At the start of the year, we were kind of feeling out where we fit, and ever since we went down (to the Benilde-St. Margaret’s tournament), we’ve done a really good job at believing in what we’re capable of and taking advantage of the opportunity in front of us.”

Look no further than Moorhead center Aaron Herdt for the Spuds’ confidence. Notching three points, as Herdt did Thursday, will do that for a player.

“We expected to win this game,” Herdt said of Thursday’s matchup. “Us going against the best in the state really helps us in the long run. No one in our section plays as hard of a schedule as we do, so that’s good for us. It benefits us at the end of the year, and I think it’s starting to show now.”

Herdt opened Thursday’s scoring with a wrister less than five minutes into the game. Austin Skjefte found Zach Holtgrewe, who found Will Borgen in front of an empty net for a perfectly executed power-play goal seven minutes later to put the Spuds up 2-0. Jack Fahrendorf made it 3-0 Spuds six minutes into the second period.

St. Cloud Tech made it interesting three minutes later when Tanner Skaja’s breakaway goal pulled the Tigers (9-7) within two, but Weiss answered back six minutes later. The Tigers had one last chance with the Spuds getting a five-minute boarding penalty in the third, but Herdt’s 19th goal of the season with a man down was the final nail in the coffin for the Tigers.

“We just need to not overcomplicate the game,” Herdt said. “When we do our basic stuff, it definitely shows. We’re a good team, and we can play with anybody.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, M, Herdt, 4:03. 2, M, Borgen (Skjefte, Odegard), 11:17, (pp).

SECOND PERIOD: 3, M, Fahrendorf (Skjefte, Holtgrewe), 6:03. 4, S, Skaja (Althaus), 9:02. 5, M, Weiss (Herdt), 14:51.

THIRD PERIOD: 6, M, Herdt, 7:54, (sh).

SAVES: S, Althaus 13-15-8–36. M, Kvalevog 9-6-5-20

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548