FAIRMONT - A balanced New Ulm scoring attack featured eight different players netting a goal to pace the Eagles' 11-1 South Central Conference hockey victory over the Fairmont Area Cardinals on Thursday night at Martin County Arena in Fairmont.
Colin Huffman scored the first goal of the game 1:28 into the first period to give the Eagles an early 1-0 lead on a Cole Dulas and Ethan Kraus assist.
Huffman gathered a rebound off Cardinal goalie Colton Cunning's kick save and slipped the shot through the crease under Cunning's outstretched glove.
ACCELERATION — Fairmont Area’s Rodney Engstrom (left) speeds by New Ulm’s Josh Cooper during South Central Conference hockey action Thursday night at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. Photo by Leanna Becker
Brandon Helget then made it a two-goal game for the Eagles, pushing a backhanded shot over the goal line with 9:20 left in the opening frame.
Blake Neumann then used some fancy stick work 2:26 later, transferring the puck from backhand to forhand before firing the netfinder to make it 3-0 with 6:54 left in the first.
With the Cardinals running just their top two lines in the first period due to an injury, they were able to keep the deficit to three goals.
"Our forecheck was pretty good the first period, and through the whole game. I thought our coverage in front of the net was also pretty good," said Fairmont Area head coach Brady Meyer. "We came out in the second period though and were tired with only using two lines in the first."
Cunning helped the Cardinals to stay in the game in the first period, stopping 15 of the 18 shots on goal.
Brock Johnson managed to engineer some offense for Fairmont Area, carrying the puck deep into the Eagle zone before dropping a pass to Matt Lytle in the slot. Lytle fired a wrister on net with 4 minutes remaining in the opening period that Eagles' netminder Brach Kraus snared for the save.
The Eagles came out of the intermission firing on all cylinders in the second period and netted three goals in the first three minutes to double their lead.
Lucas Heiderscheidt scored his lone goal of the game just 27 seconds into the second period, before Helget followed with his own scoring shot at the 1:01 mark.
Helget fired a shot on net that rebounded off of Cunning's stick back to the Eagle forward for net-finding shot to make it 5-0 just over a minute into the second period.
Neumann completed the opening trifecta of scoring, sending a Heiderscheidt and Wyatt Peterson assist through the crease for the 6-0 lead.
"We didn't do as good of a job of keeping them away from the front of the net in the second period. That's where they got all their shots," said Meyer.
The Cardinals took two penalties late in the period, giving the Eagles a 5-on-3 advantage.
With one second remaining on the two-man advantage, Kraus buried a shot from the slot to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
Mitch Neid and Cody Gilliland joined the offensive attack for New Ulm in the final two minutes of the middle period, scoring two goals 44 seconds apart to take the 9-0 lead going into the final period.
The Eagles added a pair of goals in the third period on shots by Ethan Kraus and Jon Kopacek to add to their lead.
Lytle produced some excitement with 10:40 left in the game, finding the net for the lone Cardinal goal.
Trason Arens fired a breakout pass off the boards to Rodney Engstrom, who moved it ahead into the Eagles' zone.
Lytle gained control of the free puck and carried it into the slot. Using a hesitation move, Lytle fired a quick wrister to stretch the twine to end Brach Kraus' shutout bid.
Fairmont Area (2-18-1, 1-5 SCC) travels to Worthington for the opening round of the Section 3A playoffs at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.
New Ulm (12-12-1, 5-0-1 SCC) plays host to Redwood Valley in a 7 p.m. Section 3A quarterfinal game.
New Ulm 3-6-2-11
Fairmont 0-0-1- 1
NU - Colin Huffman (Cole Dulas, Ethan Kraus), 1:28.
NU - Brandon Helget (Chad Ludewig), 7:40.
NU - Blake Neumann (Lucas Heiderscheidt, Wyatt Peterson), 10:06.
NU - Lucas Heiderscheidt (Wyatt Peterson), 0:27.
NU - Brandon Helget (Lucas Heiderscheidt, Colin Huffman), 1:01.
NU - Blake Neumann (Lucas Heiderscheidt, Wyatt Peterson), 2:58.
NU - Ethan Kraus (Colin Huffman),pp., 13:44.
NU - Mitch Neid (Lucas Heiderscheidt), 15:01.
NU - Cody Gilliland (Ryan Busch, Ethan Kraus), 15:45.
NU - Ethan Kraus (Brandon Helget, Colin Huffman), 1:04.
NU - Jon Kopacek (unassisted), 2:56.
FA - Matt Lytle (Rodney Engstrom), 6:20.
Saves: Colton Cunning (FA) 36; Brach Kraus (NU) 21.
Shots on goal: New Ulm 47; Fairmont Area 22.
Penalties: Fairmont Area 4 for 8 minutes; New Ulm 1 for 2 minutes.
Power-play chances: New Ulm 1 for 4; Fairmont Area 0 for 1.