Men's Hockey Defeats Gophers 6-2 for Weekend Split

Natalie Dillon
Crookston Times

The University of Minnesota Crookston men’s club hockey team split with the WCCHA Northwest division leading Minnesota Golden Gophers over the weekend. 

After suffering a 1-4 loss on Friday, the Golden Eagles battled back on Saturday to score six goals in a row to secure the 6-2 victory.  

Tristan Morneault, who was one of three players to have three points in the game, said the team got fired up for Saturday’s game after taking the tough loss on Friday. 

“We just wanted it more today,” Morneault said. “Last night we got the loss, and we accepted it. Tonight, we got in the game and said to ourselves, we’re not looking back.” 

The game appeared to be a repeat of Friday, as the Gophers scored their first goal 32 seconds into the first period with little difficulty. 

The Golden Eagles didn’t get discouraged, though, as they answered with two goals from Tyler Zahradka and Nikolai Rajala in a matter of 30 seconds.  

Although Sam Baxter went to the penalty box for hooking, Crookston kept their foot on the gas, as they had a short-handed goal opportunity that got blocked. Shortly after, Zahradka scored his second of three goals with assists from Morneault and Jackson Fuller.  

The Golden Eagles capped off their explosive first period with Rajala’s second goal, assisted by Logan Syrup and Casey Kallock.  

Neither team scored in the second period, rather each team had a couple penalties. Between Gophers and Golden Eagles, there were 10 penalties totaling 31 minutes in the entire game. 

Zahradka started the scoring early, as he scored on a redirect 34 seconds into the third period. Kallock and Syrup connected once again for the assists. With his second assist on the night, Syrup amassed his eleventh assist of the season, which leads the Golden Eagles. 

Morneault, who had two assists earlier in the game, scored his own goal when the Gophers goalie went on his stomach grabbing for the rebound from Fuller’s shot.  

Minnesota scored their second goal of the game with four minutes left in the game, but Crookston’s lead was too much. 

Three players totaled three points in the game. Tyler Zahradka led the team with his second hat trick of the season, Kallock’s points all came from assists and Morneault had two assists with one goal. Fuller and Syrup added two assists apiece to the total. Jake Sumner played all 60 minutes in goal allowing just two goals with 35 saves. 

The night before, the Gophers got on the board early, too. Shane Griffin scored an unassisted goal just 45 seconds into the first period.  

Seven minutes later, Minnesota scored again as a Gopher defender screened Jared Aamold, allowing Tyler Oakland’s shot to find the back of the net. 

The Golden Eagles had two power plays in the first but were unable to capitalize with man advantage.  

Minnesota scored two more goals in the second period and also had two more penalties, both taken by Adam Weiner. With four minutes left in the period, Weiner went to the box for roughing, and with just under a minute left, he was ejected for spearing. 

Kallock scored the lone goal for Crookston seven minutes into the third period, but the Golden Eagles were unable to find the back of the net the rest of the game. Despite the loss, Crookston outshot Minnesota 44-31.  

Head coach Steve Johnson said his team had quite a few opportunities to score, but the Gophers stopped the puck from getting to the goal. 

“Simply, we have to finish off plays,” Johnson said. “We have to get pucks to the net and not let them get blocked. It’s just a fine line of switching an angle for a shot and getting it to the net and getting the rebounds. We had some real good looks where we just didn’t bury a puck. We just have to bear down on our chances and scoring opportunities.” 

The Golden Eagles travel to Jamestown, North Dakota next weekend to take on the Jimmies. In their matchup earlier this season, two teams split with scores of 4-2 and 3-6. 

Jackson Fuller puts up a contested shot
Gunner Ferrier skates down the puck
Sam Baxter controls the puck on a power play
Tyler Zahradka puts a shot on goal
Nikolai Rajala takes the face-off
Casey Kallock takes a shot