Seniors honored in final home game of season.
Despite a few distractions prior to the game, Josh Hardy could not have asked for a better night for his seniors.
Prior to Tuesday’s contest with the Red Lake Falls Eagles, the Crookston Pirates boys hockey team honored its seniors who would be playing their final home game of the regular season at the Crookston Sports Center.
“All the stuff before the game, the boys thinking about maybe this being our last game at home,” Hardy said. “You mix up the lines a little to get everybody involved, but we came out and took care of business.”
The distractions did not show in the game as Crookston cruised to a 6-0 shutout win over RLF.
“All we needed was a win tonight and I thought we did it pretty handily,” Hardy said.
Crookston began its scoring spree five minutes into the first period when senior defender Ethan Christopherson shot a long-range goal into Red Lake Falls’ net off the assist from senior teammate Dane Anderson.
Freshman forward Joey Doda doubled Crookston’s lead eight minutes later with a power-play goal off assists from Ethan Stroot and Eric Delorme.
The Pirates wasted hardly any time to increase their lead in the second frame as senior forward Zach Markovich slapped an unassisted goal past RLF goalkeeper Brenden Larson one minute in to giver his team a 3-0 advantage.
Crookston let loose even more the third period.
Junior forward Ethan Magsam began Crookston’s attack with his ninth goal of the season at 4:52 off assists from Ben Andringa and Doda.
Nine minutes later, senior forward Tanner Reinhart added his own goal with assists from Ben Trostad and Zach Cameron.
Markovich concluded the Pirates’ scoring with his second goal of the game at 15:55 on a shorthand shot off an assist from Magsam.
“It’s nice for our seniors to have a night like this and it’s nice for our parents to have a night like this,” Hardy said. “As you know, we have a lot of parents here who put in a lot of miles for these kids over the years and this is kind of the culmination for seniors and I know there were some tears.
“I get sad about it too, but we’re not done yet. It’s not over yet and we’re going to keep going.”
Zach Cameron, Trace Conati and Logan Prudhomme, who primarily play on the junior varsity squad, made the move to varsity for senior night and contributed to the victory.
“(Zach, Trace and Logan) came out and fit right in and they were great,” Hardy said. “It was fun to see them have a little success out here.”
Red Lake Falls was kept to just four shots on goal throughout Tuesday’s contest.
“There were a couple times where (RLF) made me a little nervous,” Hardy said. “They work hard. They don’t give up. You give them an inch and they’re going to take it.”
Thomas Cymbaluk played the entire game in the net and stopped all four shots on goal to hand Crookston the shut out win.
“It was fun,” Cymbaluk said. “Didn’t get quite as many shots as you would hope to but it was fun.”
“Goalies are tough because you don’t get many shots in a game like that and then all of a sudden it’s like, boom, you get tested and you gotta react,” Hardy said. “(Thomas) was up to the challenge. (RLF) had a couple of good opportunities on him and he controlled the play and was able to help us with pucks behind the net and things like that. A good senior night shutout for him.”
Larson was kept busy throughout the night with 38 saves at the opposite end.
“They’re going to fight for everything and I thought their goalie played real well,” Hardy said. “He was fun to watch. He made some nice saves.
“We would have liked to have maybe a few more goals. You put 44 on the net and you think you maybe can get a couple more but hey, we’re happy with the 6-0 win.”
The Pirates are now riding a three-game win streak heading into their final regular-season matchup on Thursday with the Roseau Rams.
“They’re going to be tough,” Hardy said. “They’re a real solid AA team. They’ve been real hot in the last month or two.
“East Side took care of business against them last week but we scrimmaged them earlier in the year. They’re big, strong and fast and they’re going to be a great test before playoffs.”
Crookston concludes its home schedule with a 10-14 record.
“It’s kind of sad that the season is coming to an end,” Cymbaluk said. “Last home game here assuming we don’t get the section game here but it felt good to get the win though.”