Rebels crush Mustangs 9-1 in playoff opener, play Hermantown nextThe Rebels (12-14-0) play Class A hockey’s top-ranked Hermantown (25-0-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday night, Feb. 23, at Hermantown Arena. The last time the two teams met, the Hawks won 2-1.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The Moose Lake Area boys hockey team got some good news and some bad news on Tuesday night.
First the good news: the Rebels thrashed Mora-Hinckley-Finlayson 9-1 in a Section 5A playoff play-in game on Tuesday night in Mora.
Now the bad news: in their second playoff game, the Rebels (12-14-0) get Class A hockey’s ultimate test in a quarterfinal game against top-ranked Hermantown (25-0-0). The game will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Hermantown Arena.
The victory in Mora avenged a late-season defeat against that same team that forced the Rebels to play the game on the road instead of earning a home seed.
“I wouldn’t say so much that it was revenge, but just that we played better,” MLA Coach Josh Gamst said. “The last game we played down there we had penalty trouble and our two worst periods of the season. [Tuesday] night, we were better.”
But in the rematch, the Rebels left no doubt as to their intentions by scoring three goals in the first 3:20 of the contest.
Cole Lower opened the scoring with assists to Tyler and Josh Cisar just 40 seconds into the contest, with Michael Gassert making it 2-0 exactly two minutes into the game.
Tyler Cisar started a big night with a goal at the 3:20 mark of the period and Teddy Ryan made it 4-0 for the Rebels with a goal with 1:34 to play in the session.
“We got off to a really good start,” Gamst said. “We got a couple of soft goals early and got off to a great start. It settled us down very well. I didn’t think we’d blow them out but I thought we would play a better game.”
Ahead 4-0 after one period, Moose Lake Area kept pouring it on in the second.
Tyler Cisar scored his second goal of the game with a shorthanded marker at the one minute mark, followed by Kyler Greene’s tally at 7:17. Stephen Gassert made it 7-0 at 8:52 and Tyler Cisar completed his hat trick at 11:22 for an 8-0 Rebel lead after two periods.
“We could have scored a few more,” Gamst said. “We hit a few pipes and in the third period we backed off a bit and tried a few new things.”
Tyler Cisar then completed a great night by scoring his fourth goal of the game in the third
period, with the game in running time, to make it 9-0. Goaltender Gage Mohelsky then lost his shutout bid with 4:29 to play in the game, but still stopped 23 of 24 MHF shots on the night.
Josh Cisar, who led the state in goal scoring with 62 during the regular season, was held off the board in that department, but had three assists to raise his state-leading point total to 88.
“Josh was sick earlier in the week and wasn’t at full speed,” Gamst said. “It was great to see the scoring load spread out and some of the other players scoring goals.”
Last Thursday, the Rebels topped Two Harbors in their final regular season game 6-1.
Mike Nordean put Two Harbors on the board first with what turned out to be their only goal, at just 1:03 into the first period, but Moose Lake Area tied it up at 5:14 when Michael Gassert scored on an assist by Jake Cisar.
In the second period, Josh Cisar scored twice in just 19 seconds – at 16:14 (shorthanded) and at 16:33 to put the Rebels up 4-1.
Tyler Cisar, Cole Lower and Josh Cisar capped off the scoring in the third period, pummeling Two Harbors goalie Micky Smith. Mohelsky stopped 22 of 23 shots from the Agates and help the Rebels to their 10th win on the season.
Now up for the Rebels: Minnesota’s top-ranked Class A team.
The Hawks, coached by former Cloquet High School player Bruce Plante, have had a magnificent season. They have shut out four straight opponents heading into the contest, with shutout wins over Duluth Denfeld, Red Wing, Little Falls and Hibbing-Chisholm to boast.
The Hawks have allowed only one goal during the month of February, outscoring their opponents 21-1 during that span. CEC was the only team to find the range against Hermantown since the turn of the month, in a 2-1 Hermantown win on Feb. 2.
“It’s going to be a definite challenge, there’s no other way to put it,” Gamst said. “They are great in their own end. To compete we have to keep the puck out of our own net and take our opportunities when they come.”
The Rebels also have to figure out a way to stop UMD recruit Jared Thomas, one of the top players in the state.
“The idea is hopefully to get in his shooting lanes,” Gamst said. “He is quick and he has good lateral movement. If Tyler and Josh match up against them they can skate with the Thomas line. But we don’t get the last [line] change.”
Gamst is looking for a full effort from his team.
“Show up and go, that’s what I tell them,” he said. “Be proud that you are here playing the best team in the state. Give them 51 minutes of your very best. I think 99 percent of these guys will never play a tougher hockey team in their lives. Play as hard as you can throughout so come Friday, win or lose, you can be at peace whether it’s 2-1 or 13-1.”