Lumberjacks put two checks in the win column
It took a few games, but the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey team shifted its offense into high gear this week to pick up its first two wins of the young season.
The 'Jacks rode two first-period goals to a 3-1 win over South St. Paul on Saturday night at Northwoods Credit Union Arena and exploded for six third-period goals to beat Cambridge-Isanti 8-2 on Tuesday night away from home.
"Wins are for confidence," Coach Dave Esse said. "We have built some momentum but, of course, the goal is always to strive to get better."
The 'Jacks jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Cambridge on first-period goals by Cole Litsey and Dylan Johnson 22 seconds apart, only to see the home team score twice in 58 seconds in the second period to tie the game 2-2 heading into the third.
There, CEC buried their hosts with a six-goal avalanche. Team captain James Newgren scored the eventual winning goal at 5:11, but that goal was quickly followed by a pair of goals from Hunter Roberts to make it 5-2. Newgren added the team's sixth goal at 12:36, and Ryan Bourgeault and Nick Niemi added late goals to force running time at the end of the game.
Zack Strom stopped 17 of 19 shots in goal for the win.
Against the Packers, Kyle Klatt got the team off to a flying start with a goal just 33 seconds into the game.
"Any time you can score first, let alone on the first shift, it's a great start," Esse said. "Kyle moves his feet well and he has quick hands. We need guys like him to produce to win."
Derek Bloom gave the 'Jacks a 2-0 lead at 6:59 as part of a first period that was much improved from the team's prior game, a loss to Bloomington Jefferson.
"I thought we had a good first period," Esse said. "We played three lines and all our defensemen, and we made some good hits, we moved the puck well and got a much better effort in the first period."
After a scoreless second period, Newgren made it 3-0 35 seconds into the third before Brenden Shanley ruined Strom's shutout bid at the 4:09 mark.
"I thought Zack made some good saves," Esse said. "He made a save on a partial breakaway at the end of the first period that bailed us out. One shot can make a real difference there and he kept the score 2-0."
CEC (2-2-1) outshot South St. Paul 44-14 in the game, with Strom making 13 stops for the win.
Next up is a Thursday night game against arch-rival Duluth East at Northwoods Credit Union Arena. The Greyhounds (2-1-0) lost 3-2 on Tuesday night at home to a very talented Elk River team and are a much younger East squad than the 'Jacks are used to seeing.
"[East has] had some teams like this," Esse said. "Mike (East coach Mike Randolph) might say this is one of his youngest teams but they are still good players. They play the toughest schedule in the state, bar none. They don't necessarily have the line that is guaranteed to get three or four points a game, but if you can hold them to a few (goals), you're in the game."
After a slow start to the season in penalty killing, CEC has now snuffed out nine straight opponent power plays, and special teams will be a key on Thursday. Entering the game, East has not scored a power play goal in three contests.
"Goaltending and special teams," Esse said. "Who makes the play on special teams will be a key thing. We hope for a good crowd at home and it should be fun."
The Moose Lake Area boys hockey team continues its rebuilding project under first-year head coach Joe McDonnell.
The Rebels (0-4-0, 0-3-0 Two Rivers Conference) fell 6-0 on Monday night at Breezy Point against Northern Lakes. Gage Mohelsky, who played heroically in goal last season for the Rebels, made 48 saves on 54 shots in the contest.
The Rebels have 16 players on their varsity this season including three goaltenders, and are trying to snap a 31-game winless streak dating back to the 2012 playoffs. The Rebels will be at Becker-Big Lake on Thursday night in a Two Rivers conference matchup and will play at North Branch Saturday night.
The Moose Lake-Willow River girls (3-5-1) played only one game last week due to the snow, a 7-4 loss at Chisago Lakes, and fell 5-1 at home to the WSFLG Blizzard on Tuesday night at Riverside Arena. No individual stats were available at press time.
The Rebels are led in scoring by Jessica Bird (7 goals, 6 assists, 13 points) through the first eight games, with Cassie White posting a 3-4-1 record in goal and a 3.24 goals-against average through the first eight games.
The CEC girls (1-6-1) picked up their first win of the season last Thursday in a 6-3 win over Proctor-Hermantown, snapping a 2-2 tie with four third-period goals.
Ashley Krisak broke the tie with a goal at 1:43 of the third period, with Mikayla Baker adding two goals, including the eventual game winner, later in the period. Rosalie Lundquist, Kailey Buhr and Jade Alvillar scored the other goals for the 'Jacks. Stacy Nelson stopped 15 of 18 shots in goal for the win.
CEC fell 7-1 at home to Wayzata on Saturday night, with CJ Stoyanoff scoring the team's goal and Nelson splitting time in goal with Erin Genereau. The 'Jacks are next in action on Friday night at Elk River.