Teams wrap up their season with the district tournament.
The Mite White played some of their best hockey of the season this past weekend, came out a little short, but scored a ton of goals. They played very well. Asher Vigness was solid in net this weekend in both games.
The Mite Blue played three games at home this weekend. On Saturday, the Mite Blue team played two games. The first was against the East Grand Forks Black team. It was an exciting game with both teams skating hard and creating some good opportunities at both ends of the rink. The score was tied after two periods of play but the Mite Blues fell short losing 4-3. In their second game on Saturday, they played the East Grand Forks Green team. Again, this was another exciting game with both teams skating hard. Unfortunately, the Mite Blues ran short on gas towards the end of the game and they came up short losing 6-4. The kids gave it their all, but playing two games in a span of four hours took a toll on them.
On Sunday, they played a very good Thief River Falls Black team. The Mite Blues defeated this team three weeks ago 7-5 in a very exciting game, so Thief River Falls was looking for some payback. As was expected, it was a tight, exciting game with both teams not giving up too many opportunities. In the end, Thief River Falls managed to hang on for a 3-2 win. Crookston had a good scoring chance to tie the game with just nine seconds to go, but the shot went just wide of the net.
The Mite Blues will have a chance at redemption next weekend when they travel to Thief River Falls to play their last game of the season against the TRF Black team. Scoring this weekend for the Blues were Grant Funk, Ryan Clauson, Cameron Duncan and Aidan Weiland.
On Sunday, the 8U girls faced off against a tough, competitive Thief River Falls team. The final score was 1-1. Sydney McDonald was in net for the first time and did a phenomenal job. Her amazing defensive skills helped her keep many goals from reaching the back of the net. Catelyn Maruska scored the only goal of the game. The girls played hard, never gave up and had a blast doing it. The girls will wrap up their season on Saturday, March 10 when they travel to TRF for two games, one at 2:30 p.m. and the other at 4:45 p.m.
The boys entered the District Playoffs with the main goal to "Beat Warroad." They focused on it all week. The over-arching objective was to finish the season strong and do well at districts, but they knew if they wanted to play for the championship, an opening game win over Warroad was must.
The game started out as a back-and-forth battle. Both teams remained scoreless until Dexter Janek was able to connect with Gavin Aakhus on the power play to put Crookston up 1-0 with 8:15 to play in the first. Warroad was able to answer just 1:14 later and then found the back of the net once again late in the period to take a 2-1 lead over Crookston into the first intermission. Crookston was plagued by penalties in the second period, Warroad made the most of their opportunities scoring three goals on multiple 5-on-4 advantages. Warroad led 5-1 after two periods of play. Crookston came out much better in the third period with goals from Conner Hanson (assist- G. Aakhus) and Evan Shockman (assist- A. Mattson), but were unable to overcome the deficit and fell to Warroad by a final score of 7-3. Brady Chandler and Teegyn Johnson combined for 22 saves.
Crookston would face off against Hallock in the second game of the day, the message to the team was to go out and take care of business, whether they would have the opportunity to play for the championship was out of their hands. They knew in order to have any chance, they would need to come out and beat Hallock. Dexter Janek opened up the scoring 2:47 seconds into the game and Crookston would not look back. Jack Buhler (unassisted) and Riley Helgeson (assists - G. Aakhus and D. Janek) was enough to take a 3-2 lead into the first intermission after giving up a late goal to Hallock with just 12 seconds remaining in the period. The team did not want Hallock's late goal to turn the momentum of the game, they knew it was time to take complete control of the game. They did so on the shoulders of Evan Shockman's second period hat trick which included a goal set up brilliantly by a pass from Jace Bruggeman. Gavin Aakhus was also able to net a goal on a pass from Conner Hansen which set up the decisive 8-2 victory for Crookston. Teegyn Johnson and Brady Chandler combined for 18 saves.
After the rest of the tournament games played out, Crookston learned they would face Bemidji in the third place game. Crookston would find their way on the scoreboard first when Dexter Janek connected with Gavin Aakhus to score on the first shift of the game. Bemidji answered later in the period and it was 1-1 after the first. Gavin Aakhus put Crookston back in front scoring early in the second period. Bemidji again answered right back when they tied it just 1:30 later. Riley Helgeson put Crookston back in front once again when he won a critical face-off and blasted the puck past Bemidji's goaltender. Gavin Aakhus netted another three goals, two of which were assisted by Conner Hanson. Crookston was able to win the game and third place honors in front of superb goaltender play from Brady Chandler who ended up with 39 saves which included an all out third period attack from Bemidji. Brady had 17 saves in the third period alone.
It has been a great season for this squad. They all have improved immensely since they first set foot on the ice back in October. The season had its ups and down, frustrations and celebrations. These boys played a heck of a hockey season and should be very proud of their accomplishments.
There is no way to choose a player of the week for this past weekend. Taking third place could not have been done without each and every member of the team. The entire roster qualifies as this week’s player of the week.
A special thank you to Jaden Isakson and Jared Janek for volunteering so much time and effort in coaching this team. Also to Mandi Janek who played a key role as the team's parent rep who worked numerous behind-the-scene logistics between parents, coaches, Blue Line Club and other youth hockey organizations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and Canada. Youth hockey can only be successful through parent volunteers and the support of all parents. This season was a successful one due to everyone's commitment to their child's love of the game. Enjoy a great off season and congrats on a fun and successful season.
Over the course of the season, coaches consistently told the boys that districts will be the most important tournament they will play in this year. The boys acknowledged that challenge and responded with a great weekend of hard work and effort. In the first game, Roseau came out very fast and although the boys never quit, they were unable to match Roseau’s high-power offense and fell 8-0 to the Rams. The second game was against Red Lake Falls which is turning into a very competitive rivalry between the two towns. Red Lake Falls got the upper hand getting up on the boys 3-1 in the first period, but they battled back to win 4-3 setting up the rubber match with Thief River Falls Sunday morning. The boys came to the rink confident and ready to play and this game truly defined what they are about. Winning their races, battling for loose pucks and just plain having fun brought our boys a well-earned 3-0 win to close out our season. Coach Colborn, Coach Lubinski and Coach Fischer could not be prouder of this group of young Pirates.
The Crookston 10U girls hosted their District 16 tournament this past Saturday and Sunday. The girls did an outstanding job coming in at third place.
The young Pirates took on No. 2 Warroad first. They had lost to them twice earlier this season, but kept improving the differential in the score each time. The girls came ready to play and made it a battle to the very end. The teams were pretty even right off the bat, then midway through the first period Warroad put the first point on the board. Moments later, Crookston's Miryah Epema (assisted by Addie Fee) knocked one past the Warroad goalie, tying the game 1-1. Warroad quickly answered, putting Crookston down 2-1 at the end of the first. During the second period, Crookston's Karena Longoria (assisted by Fee) fired one past the Warroad goalie tying it back up 2-2. About two minutes later, a scrum in front of the net occurred and Alexa Bartrum capitalized on an opportunity to zing the puck to the back of the net, putting Crookston on top for the first time this season with a 3-2 lead. The girls held Warroad scoreless the entire second period, which was a feat in itself. The girls kept battling to hold on to their lead until Warroad scored with about four minutes left in the game, tying it up 3-3. Neither team would give up another goal sending the game into overtime. A tense, 10 minute OT was played and the girls gave it all they had until Warroad scored with two minutes left for the win. It was a tough loss for our girls, but they should be proud of how hard they played. Goalie Natalie Longoria did fantastic in the net saving 33 of 37 shots.
The girls took a break and got ready to take on No. 4 East Grand Forks Saturday evening. Winning this game would allow one team to advance to Sunday's third place game and send the other home for the season. The girls had beat EGF three times prior this season, but that did not deter a very determined EGF team, of whom did not want this to be their last game. Crookston came out a bit flat the first period, allowing EGF to score first and they kept the lead until early in the second period when Crookston's Ashlyn Bailey rushed down the ice with a backhand and scored tying it 1-1. Both teams were working the puck for another seven minutes, until in front of the net, Kaylie Clauson (assisted by Karena Longoria and Miryah Epema) buried it into the net putting Crookston ahead 2-1. Crookston allowed Bailey to score again increasing their lead 3-1, but a scrum in front of the Pirate net allowed EGF answer about a minute later. The last minute of the second period, Crookston pushed hard to get a more comfortable lead before break, which allowed Bailey to rush the puck down to score her third of the night. The Pirates now led 4-2 going into the third period. EGF would not back down in the third and scored again midway through putting Crookston up 4-3. Throughout the next eight minutes, the Pirates focused on not allowing EGF to get many shots and did what they could to keep it in EGF's defensive zone. With one minute left of the game, Bailey found an opening and sealed the deal with one final goal earning the Pirate team a 5-3 win, sending EGF home for the season. Goalie Natalie Longoria again stood solid in net saving 14 shots.
For the third place game on Sunday morning, the girls faced an unwavering No. 5 Bemidji team, whom the girls beat twice earlier this season. For the second game in a row this weekend, the Pirates found themselves down 1-0 after the first period running into a hot Bemidji goalie. It was not until midway through the second period that Crookston's Karena Longoria (assisted by Ashlyn Bailey) fired a shot off a rebound to score their first goal of the game, tying it up 1-1. Moments before the end of the second period, Bemidji again found the back of the net putting them up by one going into the third period. The girls, determined to get the District 16 third place trophy, got themselves fired up during period break. The girls came out jazzed, which resulted in Alexa Bartrum (assisted by Maddie Harbott) slapping one in early in the third to tie it back up at 2-2. Another three minutes passed and the girls continued to battle until a lose puck gave Ashlyn Bailey the opportunity for breakaway goal putting the team on top 3-2 for the first time that game. Bemidji pulled their goalie with about a minute left in the game to pressure the Pirates, but Crookston's Addie Fee brought it up just inside Bemidji's defensive zone and sealed Bemidji's fate with an open net goal with .2 seconds left, giving the girls their much anticipated third place district trophy. Goalie Natalie Longoria, smiling from ear to ear, saved 11 of 13 great shots for the win. With shrills of excitement and a team dog-pile, a big trophy was handed over to the team, making for an exciting end a very fun and successful 10U season.
A huge thank you to the 10U coaches - Andy Fee, Brent Epema, Scott Sanders and Trevore Brekken for all their extra time, patience and expertise they gave these 19 girls this season. Also, thank you to all the fans for supporting them at home and away. These girls have a bright future.
The Crookston Bantam season came to an end this weekend at the North Regional Tournament in International Falls. On Friday, Crookston defeated Eveleth-Gilbert 9-1. On Saturday, Crookston faced off against a very good Moorhead team and were defeated 7-3. Later Saturday evening, Crookston was eliminated from tournament play after a tough loss to Grand Rapids 7-4. Crookston finishes the season with a overall "B" record of 27-6-1 and a perfect 18-0-0 record against district 16 opponents.
Thank you to all of our players and parents for a great season.