PeeWee “A” North Regional Tournament at MoorheadPublished 11:26am Tuesday, March 15, 2011
It was North Regional Tournament time for the Fergus Falls PeeWee “A” hockey team this weekend. Moorhead played host to the top eight teams from the region. Playing in a double-elimination format, the first and second place teams would earn a trip to the State tournament. Moorhead, Grand Rapids, Bemidji, Virginia, Hibbing, Thief River Falls, East Grand Forks and the Otters summed up the Region’s equivalent of “The Elite Eight”.
Fergus Falls faced off against Grand Rapids in the opening round and came out flat against an offensive buzz saw that took advantage of nearly every opportunity. Grand Rapid took an early 2-0 lead in the first period until Zach Tarczon’s unassisted goal with 4:14 on the clock made it a 2-1 game, but it was all Grand Rapids after that, outscoring Fergus Falls 13-2 in the remainder of the contest. Nick Johnson scored a second period goal, assisted by Corey Ward, and Adam Swanson scored a third period goal on a nice setup pass by Tarczon. Grand Rapids outshot the Otters 48-23.
The Otters found their rhythm against Virginia in their first loser-out contest. Fergus Falls held the momentum for the majority of the game due to strong back-checking and outstanding goaltending by goaltender Derek Christianson, who shut the door on several quality scoring chances by Virginia. First period scoring began and ended with Tarczon finding Swanson open for a hot “one-timer” to give the Otters a 1-0 lead at the 9:29 mark. Second period scoring was also scarce until Tarczon’s shorthanded goal, assisted by Tosten Mann, put Fergus Falls up 2-0 heading into the third period. Peter Johnson gave the Otters a 3-0 lead one minute into the third period when Swanson found him with a centering pass in front of the Virginia net. Johnson scored again with 4:05 left in the game, assisted by Tarczon and Jack Nathe, resulting in a 4-0 Otter lead. Virginia would score twice late to make things interesting, but Fergus Falls earned a hard-fought 4-2 victory. The Otters were outshot 21-18. Christianson ended the game with 19 saves.
Hibbing was next up for Fergus Falls in a game that had the crowd on their feet when the final horn sounded. Tarczon answered an early Hibbing goal with a backhander streaking in from the right with 5:24 remaining in the first period, assisted by Nathe and Brady Kampsula. With 1:30 on the clock, Brady Anderson and Kampsula teamed up for a beautiful setup play that resulted in a Tarczon breakaway goal to end the period with the Otters up 2-1. Penalties were a factor in the second period for Hibbing. One of the factors came on an unassisted shorthanded goal by Tarczon when he skated in front of an outlet pass that resulted in another breakaway goal, a hat-trick, and a 3-1 Otter lead. Fergus Falls added a Riley Sheridan power play goal at the 1:48 mark, assisted by Peter Johnson and Tarczon, to go up by a score of 4-1 heading into the final period. Hibbing scored early to start the third, but Tarczon answered with 13:58 on the clock, assisted by Peter Johnson, giving the Otters a 5-2 lead. Hibbing fought back, scoring twice by the midway point of the period to make for an exciting finish and take a toll on some fingernails. With 2:44 on the clock, Sheridan gave his team some breathing room and a 6-4 lead, assisted by Tyler Hobbs and Nathe. Hibbing pulled their goaltender and scored with only :28 seconds left. The game ended with a Derek Christianson save as the horn sounded for a 6-5 Otter win. Fergus Falls held a 39-29 shots on goal advantage. Christianson ended the contest with 24 hard earned saves.
Two wins away from a State Playoff berth, Fergus Falls found themselves going up against Grand Rapids for a second time due to the double-elimination format. This time, the Otters held their own yet could not find an answer to an overwhelming defensive performance by Grand Rapids. Christianson had another quality performance in goal, stopping 25 of the 31 shots on goal by Grand Rapids. The Otters managed only 11 shots on goal in the 6-0 defeat.
Grand Rapids subsequently defeated powerhouse Bemidji to join Moorhead as representatives of the North Region in the State tournament.
The PeeWee “A” team is coached by head coach Tim Lill and assistant coach Mac Abel, and sponsored by Zero Variance.