By RYAN SCHLEICHER – Sun FOCUS Newspapers
Too much to handle
A tall challenge was in order when the Irondale Knights (7-10-0, 2-5-0, 4 pts.) hosted second-place North Suburban Conference team St. Francis (11-6-0, 5-1-0, 10 pts.) last Friday at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine.
Irondale was overmatched from the get-go as St. Francis opened up a four-goal lead throughout the first period. Jimmy Mayer started the scoring when he found the back the net less than five minutes into the game. Zach Froesch put together a hat trick by the end of the first period and St. Francis saw themselves with a four-goal lead as they hit the locker room during the first intermission. Irondale looked as though they were going to try and claw their way back into the game when Tony Bridgeman scored cutting the deficit to three. St. Francis was clearly not interested in letting this become a game as Lucas Carroll and Kyle Wagner both connected on shots and inflated the deficit to five goals as the second period came to a close.
The third period started off on a hot note as each team scored less than a minute into the period. Barrett Reif scored from Irondale, but it was Cameron Kaehler from St. Francis that officially put the game away with two, third-period goals and St. Francis downed the Knights with a final score of 8-2.
Things will not get easier for Irondale as they will host Derek Lodermeier and his first-place Totino-Grace Eagles, 7:30 p.m., Thursday at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine. Irondale plays Robbinsdale Cooper Saturday, Jan. 26, at the National Sports Center.
Roo-ting to victory
They say good things come to those who wait, but apparently no one told that to Jacob Lukesavage when he scored a goal 19 seconds into the first-period to put his St. Louis Park Orioles (3-11-1, 0-4, 0 pts.) up 1-0 over the first place North Suburban Conference leader Totino-Grace Eagles (12-2-1, 6-0, 12 pts.).
As shocked as the Eagles were, the Orioles’ lead was short lived as Totino-Grace got goals from Kai Barber, TJ Roo, and Derek Lodermeier as they scored three unanswered goals to open up a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period. The second period was all Totino-Grace as Noah Vossen, Roo, and Jason Krych scored to open up a large, 6-1 lead. Totino-Grace was able to hold St. Louis Park goalless for over 35 minutes and nearly two periods as they scored their six unanswered goals.
Clearly Totino-Grace has potent offensive weapons, but head coach Mark Loahr is ecstatic over his team’s effort on the defensive end. Totino-Grace is holding their opponents to just over two goals per game and 85 percent penalty kill percentage. Curt Greenbush and Miles Malarky scored goals for St. Louis Park in the final period but that wasn’t going to be enough as Kai Barber scored his second of the game en route to an Eagles 7-3 victory.
Totino-Grace will travel to Blaine on Thursday to take on Irondale at the Schwan Super Rink — the puck drops at 7:30 for this North Suburban matchup. Totino-Grace holds the advantage this year over Irondale, beating them 4-1 earlier this year in their only matchup. They meet St. Francis Saturday, Jan. 26, at Brooklyn Park Activity Center.
Who would have thought that a small school was going to be able to play with big dogs?
Milwaukee Lutheran, with an entire enrollment of 622 students, came to town for a clash with the Columbia Heights Hylanders who have been making noise all season in the North Suburban Conference. Milwaukee Lutheran (5-7) apparently didn’t care about any of that as they upset the Hylanders 72-69 en route to their fifth win of the season.
Lutheran displayed a very balanced offensive attack as they had four players in double-digit points led by Desmond Williams who scored 14. Columbia Heights countered with an impressive performance from Deon Sanstad who continues to have a very bright season as he scored game high 20 points.
The loss drops the Hylanders to an overall record of 10-4 and a conference record of 4-1 — one game behind North Suburban Conference leader St. Louis Park.
Columbia Heights will have an opportunity to climb the conference standings as they have two conference matchups this week as when play host to St. Francis (11-3, 3-3) on Tuesday Night, and Totino-Grace (3-9, 1-4) on Friday. Both games will be at 7:15 p.m. inside Columbia Heights High School.
Tigers corralled by Cooper Hawks
Fridley has had a rollercoaster ride of a season thus far. One game they look like they are the complete package and could compete with any team in the state, and then another game, they look the complete opposite. Being able to manage success through the rollercoaster ride of a season separates the best teams from all the rest.
Fridley traveled to Robbinsdale Cooper last Friday with an opportunity to make a statement about how seriously they should be taken. Unfortunately, the Tigers left Robbinsdale Cooper with a lesson learned by one of the best teams in the North Suburban Conference. Fridley was able to keep the game close throughout the first half of play when they went into the locker room at intermission only down by three. That is where the good news stops.
The Tigers actually played better in the second half than they did the first scoring six more points, but that was no match for Robbinsdale Cooper which lit the gymnasium on fire by drilling bucket-after-bucket in their 55 point second half effort. That explosiveness led the way to victory for the Hawks as they corralled the Tigers 87-64. Fridley had only two players reach double digits led by Matt Duehn and his 15 points. Robbinsdale Cooper however, blew up to have five players reach double digit points with conference points leader Rashad Vaughn scoring a game high 27 points.
Fridley went toe-for-toe with one of the best in the conference at Benilde-St. Margaret’s (4-9, 2-3) on Tuesday. They play St. Anthony Village Friday night at St. Anthony.
Jack of all trades
The Irondale Knights (6-8, 2-3) nabbed a huge win on Friday against St. Francis (11-3, 3-3) knocking off the fourth best team in the conference 59-53.
Irondale, led by Jack Martinek and his game-high 28 points earned a real morale booster by earning this victory as this proves to them that anything can happen as long as a team continues with grind of the game.
The two teams went into halftime knotted at 28 points apiece which gave Irondale all the confidence they needed going into the second half. In the second half, Irondale displayed offensive efficiency by great ball movement and an even improved effort on the defensive end holding a potent St. Francis offense to just 25 points.
Blake Moreno did all he could to keep St. Francis in it as he scored a team high 20 points, but he just could not get any help from his bench as Jake Johnson was the only other St. Francis player to end up in double digits as he netted 10 points.
Jack Martinek from Irondale stole the show both offensively and defensively. Martinek’s presence opened up many opportunities for the rest of the cast to get in on the fun and that is just what Jonny Nguyen (12 points) and Ben Ojika (11 points) just did.
Irondale has a strong test coming Friday when they host first-place Robbinsdale Cooper.
Total team effort
Totino-Grace (3-9, 1-4) picked up their first conference win this past week when they downed the Chisago Lakes Wildcats (5-7, 1-5) 78-62.
A total of 10 Totino-Grace players recorded at least a single point in the win led by fellow Junior Guard’s Reggie Miller, who scored a team high 18 points and Colin Fleming who netted 17 points. A game high 20 points by Mitch Berg from the Wildcats was not enough to top the Totino-Grace Eagles as the Wildcats only had five players score points throughout the game.
The Eagles have an opportunity to turn the North Suburban Conference upside down as three of their next four games come against teams in the top four of the conference. Totino-Grace will face Irondale (6-8, 2-3) at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday Night at Totino-Grace high School and then travel to Columbia Heights High School on Friday for a matchup with third place Columbia Heights (10-4, 4-1) who will surely be one of the Eagles’ toughest tests so far this season. That game is set to also tip-off at 7:15 p.m.
Tough as they come
The Fridley Tigers (1-13, 0-7) got to experience first-hand what the best team in their conference, and one of the top teams in the state looks like.
That team, the Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks, flew right over the Tigers with a 73-32 victory last Friday inside the Fridley High School gymnasium. Talayiah Rich and her 15.9 points-per-game average, proved why she is in the top three in scoring in the North Suburban Conference, dropping a game high 16 points en route to the Hawks’ victory.
Laurie Bohler and Kondeh Jalloh were the other two Hawks players reaching double digits as they scored 14 points and 10 points respectively. Sarah Cownhoven from Fridley was able to find her way to six rebounds but couldn’t continue her hot scoring streak as she only netted a total of two points. Brooke Teff (13 points) and Samantha Martinson (10 points) were the only two Fridley players to reach double digits and were the only two who were able to score more than four points.
In all, Fridley had six total players score a bucket compared to a total of nine from Robbinsdale Cooper — who only had two players score less than four points. Fridley will host a 7:15 tip-off against second place Benilde St. Margaret’s (10-6, 6-1) on Tuesday night before traveling to Roseville to take on Concordia Academy (7-9, 3-4) at 7 p.m. on Friday night.
North Branch e-LEK-trifies
Little did the Columbia Heights Hylanders know when they traveled up to North Branch for last Friday’s game that they were going to be e-Lek-trocuted by Sarah Lekson from North Branch and her game high 26 points.
Lekson nearly outscored the entire Columbia Heights team who just could not find their rhythm in the first half. Missing on chance-after-chance, the Hylanders only tallied ten first-half points. Roshanna Thomas for the Hylanders continued to impress by netting half of the 32-total points scored by Columbia Heights.
This night belonged to the North Branch Vikings as they put together an impressive 42 point first half and opened up a 32 point deficit. The second half was all about playing smart and avoiding injury at all cost as the Vikings again outscored the Hylanders by nine points 22-31 en route to their dominating 73-32 victory. Columbia Heights will have to put this one behind them as they will hit the road for two conference matchups this week beginning on Tuesday Night at 7 p.m. against St. Francis (3-13, 2-5) and then they will travel up the road to Totino-Grace High School for a 7 p.m. tip-off against the Eagles (3-13, 1-6) on Thursday night before returning home for a 1 p.m. afternoon matinee against St. Agnes (11-5, 2-4) on Saturday.
Wildcats smother the Eagles
Totino-Grace was not match for the Chisago Lakes Wildcats as they downed the Eagles 75-60 last week. Totino-Grace was riding a wave a momentum as they picked up their first conference win in their previous game by beating the Fridley Tigers, 66-31.
Unfortunately, that momentum came to a stop when Bryanna Fernstrom and the rest of her Chisago Lakes Wildcats rolled on into the Totino-Grace High School gymnasium. Sarah Greene also had an impressive game as she drained 26 points helping her team to an overall record of 11-5 and in conference record of 6-1. Madison Soukup continues to be bright star for the Eagles as she put up 15 points in an effort that came up just short. With the loss, the Eagles fall to an overall record of 3-13 and an in conference record of 1-6.
The Eagles travel to Irondale (6-10, 4-3) on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tip-off against the Knights before returning home to face the Columbia Heights Hylanders (5-9, 1-6) on Thursday night at 7 p.m. Saturday, the Eagles hit the road once again as they travel to Chanhassen (10, 4-1) to take on the Storm in an inter-conference battle.
Contact Ryan Schleicher at [email protected]