The Otter Bantam B2 squad, sponsored by Eagles Aerie No. 2339, kicked off their 2021-22 season with a match against the Fargo Angels B1, and district games against Alexandria Grey and Brainerd B2.
For the season premiere, the Otters hosted the Fargo Angels Friday, at the Community Arena in Fergus Falls. At the 12-minute mark of Period 1, Brant Scheuerman earned the first goal of the season with a shot from well behind the blue line. That set the stage for four additional goals in the first period from Hayden Lappegaard, Dre Lopez and Drew Johnson (2). After a decisive lead of 5-1 at the first intermission, Lappegaard lit the lamp for a second time, followed by an unassisted zinger by Benett Thielke. Finally, Johnson earned the final piece of his hat trick with three minutes remaining. Earning assists in the game were Lopez (2), Landon Karsnia, B. Thielke, Scheuerman, Johnson and Riley Anderson. Final score was Otters 8, Fargo Angels 5.
Next up for the B2s was a Saturday matinee at the Runestone rink, against a familiar foe in the Alexandria Cardinals. Despite this being their first meeting of the season, these teams have a long history as rivals, with the Cards often earning the upper hand. In the first period, it appeared the late night and short bench might be an issue, as the Cards took an early lead in shots and led 1-0 at close of the period. But, the Otter squad came roaring back with four goals scored in the third period. First, Scheuerman again scored from the blue line unassisted. Next, Parker Thielke swam upstream against the defenders for a solo biscuit. Next up, Nolan Wedll scored back to back, first assisted by Drew Johnson, and then by Scheuerman. Alex scored once in the second, for a score of 4-2 Otters at the Zamboni break. In the third, Lopez closed the deal on a pass from Johnson on a laser shot past the goalie. Johnson and Lappegaard then set the stage for a Wedll hat trick, the second Otter trick in as many games. After one more Card goal, Johnson made it 7-4 Otters, assisted by Landon Karsnia.
After wins against both a district and non-district foe, the B2s returned home to face another D15 rival, the Brainerd Warriors. It was apparent early that the Otters were hungry for another win, with 25 shots on goal in the first period alone. Just two of those shots found their way to the twine: First, Lappegaard scored in the first minute of the game with an assist from Simon McGovern. Next, Johnson made good on a pass from Wedll and Anderson to make it 2-0 Otters. The Warriors split the lead to close the period, but it would prove to be their only goal of the matchup, as Otter goalie Gabe Samuelson locked down the crease. In a familiar pairing, Wedll earned the only goal of the second or third periods, again assisted by Drew Johnson. This game saw fantastic goalie play on both sides of the ice, with the Otters being denied 39 of 42 shots on goal. Otter goalie Gabe Samuelson stopped 21 of 22 shots for a save rate of more than 95%.
Head coach Nathan Kuhn stated, “The team started a little rough with a short bench, but quickly found their stride. They overcame and improved every game. Everyone contributed and stepped up at the right time. It was an awesome team effort.”
Next, the Eagles Bantam B2ers will travel to Sauk Rapids to participate in their Bantam B2 tournament. The Otters will face Worthington, Princeton and Sauk Rapids.