The Pirates could only fend off the effects of short rest and constant pressure for so long.
Little Falls turned on the jets in the second period with four goals and raced past the Crookston boys' hockey team, 7-3, on Saturday afternoon at the Crookston Sports Center.
The Flyers improved to 3-1-1, while the Pirates fell to 0-3 on the season.
"I don't know that we really had it all day," said Crookston coach Josh Hardy. "I thought our first six, seven minutes, we looked great, after that we really struggled offensively. Just wasn't our game."
Little Falls couldn't crack Noah Dragseth (Jr., G) and the Pirates' defense for the game's first 10 or so minutes. But on the 12th shot of the first period, Reece Hubbard beat a well-screened Dragseth through the legs on a shot from the point.
Two minutes later, the Flyers once again got bodies to the net, enabling Robby Kuchinski-Helgeson to score on a power play.
"We needed to be more physical in our zone," Hardy said. "We were just kinda hoping we were gonna get the puck and not actually going and taking it. We just needed to do a better job of making that first pass and clearing bodies in front of our net."
Kuchinski-Helgeson's second goal, with 10:24 in the second period, seemed to change the game for good. Little Falls scored twice more in the next two and a half minutes to chase Dragseth from the game.
"When we started running around and not playing our positions defensively, that really hurt us," said senior forward Ben Andringa. "We just got off-track."
Andringa scored for the Pirates with a top-shoulder finish on an odd-man rush, and Jack Doda (Fr., F) did the same moments later, scoring a short-handed goal to cut it to three and giving Crookston at least some hope.
"I said to the guys, 'Just keep your heads up and we'll just keep banging away and eventually something's gotta go in,' " Andringa said.
As the power play came to an end, though, Matt Fillippi beat Carter Nelson (Jr., G) to make it 6-2 going into the final 17 minutes.
"I was proud of the way we came back there for a bit," Hardy said. "At times we looked great and at times we really struggled. I don't know if that was due to a lack of rest, or that's a nice team over there and they made us pay and did a really did a nice job of holding possession in our zone."
Little Falls added an insurance goal midway through the third period.
Doda scored his second goal with 10 seconds to play for consolation purposes.
The Flyers outshot the Pirates, 46-17. Dragseth stopped 19 of the 24 shots he faced, while Nelson stopped 20 of his 22.
Saturday's game was initially supposed to be played at 3 p.m. but was moved up in anticipation of a winter snowstorm later in the day.
"We had a short bench, we're only playing so many guys, and it was a quick turnaround," Hardy said. "It's tough, puts us behind the eight-ball a bit. But we wanna be battle-tested."
UP NEXT: Crookston returns to action on Tuesday, Dec. 3 against Warroad at home.
"If we're able to come out on top of Warroad it would boost our team exponentially," Andringa said. "It's such an important game for us."
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